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B. M. JI E H M H 


H 3 d a h u e nemeepmoe 

M O C K B A 

V. I. L E N I N 



December 1915-July 1916 



First printing 1964 
Second printing 1974 

From Marx to Mao 

© Digital Reprints 







1. General Characteristic of the Three Main Sections. The 
Homestead West 19 

2. The Industrial North 22 

3. The Former Slave-owning South 24 

4. Average Size of Farms. "Disintegration of Capitalism" in 

the South 27 

5. The Capitalist Nature of Agriculture 32 

6. Areas of the Most Intensive Agriculture 37 

7. Machinery and Hired Labour in Agriculture 43 

8. Displacement of Small by Big Enterprises. Quantity of 
Improved Land 48 

9. Continued. Statistics on the Value of Farms 55 

10. Defects of Conventional Methods of Economic Analysis. 
Marx on the Peculiarities of Agriculture 58 

11. A More Exact Comparison of Small and Large Enter- 
prises 64 

12. Different Types of Enterprises in Agriculture 72 

13. How the Displacement of Small-scale by Large-scale 
Production in Agriculture Is Minimised 78 

14. The Expropriation of the Small Farmers 85 

15. A Comparative Picture of Evolution in Industry and 
Agriculture 92 

16. Summary and Conclusions 100 





I 108 

II Ill 

III 113 



sal of the Delegation 122 

FEBRUARY 8, 1916 123 

rade Saprov 127 





1. Imperialism, Socialism and the Liberation of Oppressed 
Nations 143 

2. The Socialist Revolution and the Struggle for Democracy 144 

3. The Significance of the Right to Self-Determination and 

Its Relation to Federation 146 

4. The Proletarian-Revolutionary Presentation of the Ques- 
tion of the Self-Determination of Nations 147 

5. Marxism and Proudhonism on the National Question . . 149 

6. Three Types of Countries with Respect to the Self- 
Determination of Nations 150 

7. Social-Chauvinism and the Self-Determination of Na- 
tions 152 

8. The Concrete Tasks of the Proletariat in the Immediate 
Future 153 

9. The Attitude of Russian and Polish Social-Democrats and 

of the Second International to Self-Determination . . . 154 









Outline 185 

Preface 187 

Preface to the French and German Editions 189 

I 189 

II 189 

III 191 

IV 192 

V 193 

I. Concentration of Production and Monopolies 196 

II. Banks and Their New Role 210 

III. Finance Capital and the Financial Oligarchy .... 226 

IV. Export of Capital 240 

V. Division of the World Among Capitalist Associations 246 

VI. Division of the World Among the Great Powers. . . 254 

VII. Imperialism, as a Special Stage of Capitalism .... 265 

VIII. Parasitism and Decay of Capitalism 276 

IX. Critique of Imperialism 285 

X. The Place of Imperialism in History 298 



1. Socialism and the Self-Determination of Nations. . . . 321 

2. Is Democracy "Practicable" Under Imperialism? .... 325 

3. What Is Annexation? 328 

4. For or Against Annexations? 331 

5. Why Are Social-Democrats Against Annexations? .... 335 

6. Is It Right to Contrast "Europe" with the Colonies in 

the Present Question? 337 

7. Marxism or Proudhonism? 339 

8. The Specific and the General in the Position of the 
Dutch and Polish Social-Democrat Internationalists . . 347 

9. Engels's Letter to Kautsky 352 

10. The Irish Rebellion of 1916 353 

11. Conclusion 358 

Notes 361 

The Life and Work of V. I. Lenin. Outstanding Dates .... 383 




Cover of New Data on the Laws Governing the Development of 
Capitalism in Agriculture. Part One. Capitalism and Agriculture 
in the United States of America. 1917 15 

First page of manuscript, "Proposals Submitted by the Central 
Committee of the R.S.D.L.P. to the Second Socialist Conference". 
February-March 1916 171 

Cover of Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism. 1917 192-93 

First page of manuscript, Imperialism, the Highest Stage of 
Capitalism. January-June 1916 196-97 



Volume 22 contains works written by Lenin between 
December 1915 and July 1916. They include his paper, 
New Data on the Laws Governing the Development of Capital- 
ism in Agriculture. Part One. Capitalism and Agriculture 
in the United States of America, a critique of the non-Marx- 
ist theory of the non-capitalist evolution of agriculture 
under capitalism. 

A considerable part of the volume consists of articles 
substantiating and explaining Bolshevik slogans and the 
tasks of the proletariat during the imperialist world war 
of 1914-18, and exposing the avowed social-chauvinists, and 
also the Centrists, who were actually social-chauvinists. 
Among them are "Opportunism and the Collapse of the Second 
International", "The Tasks of the Opposition in France", 
"Peace Without Annexations and the Independence of 
Poland as Slogans of the Day in Russia", "Wilhelm Kolb and 
Georgy Plekhanov", "The Peace Programme", "Proposals 
Submitted by the Central Committee of the R.S.D.L.P. 
to the Second Socialist Conference", "German and Non- 
German Chauvinism", etc. 

The present volume includes Lenin's famous work, Impe- 
rialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism, which gives a 
Marxist analysis of imperialism, as the final stage of capi- 
talism, and shows that "imperialism is the eve of the social 
revolution of the proletariat". On the strength of this 
analysis, Lenin put forward the new theoretical proposition 
that initially socialism could triumph in one single 
capitalist country, and could not triumph in all at once. 
Lenin formulated his brilliant proposition in two articles: 
"Slogan for a United States of Europe", written in August 
1915, and "The Military Programme of the Proletarian Rev- 
olution", written in the autumn of 1916. 



This was a new theory of socialist revolution which 
enriched Marxism and developed it. 

In his theses, "The Socialist Revolution and the Right 
of Nations to Self-Determination", and the article "The 
Discussion on Self-Determination Summed Up", Lenin 
elaborated the basic propositions of the Bolshevik programme 
on the national question. In "The Junius Pamphlet" Lenin 
criticised the political mistakes of the Left-wing Social- 
Democrats in Germany. 

Documents published for the first time in an edition 
of Lenin's Collected Works are "Draft Resolution on the 
Convocation of the Second Socialist Conference", "For the 
Conference to Be Held on April 24, 1916. Proposal of the 
Delegation", and "Letter from the Committee of Organisa- 
tions Abroad to the Sections of the R.S.D.L.P."; these are 
a reflection of Lenin's struggle against Russian and West- 
European social-chauvinists and his efforts to strengthen 
the Bolshevik Party and rally the internationalists in the 
working-class movement of all countries. 




Written in 1915 

First published in 1917 as a separate pamphlet 
by the Zhizn i Znaniye Publishers 

Published according 
to the manuscript 

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Cover of New Data on the Laws Governing the Development 
of Capitalism in Agriculture. Part One. Capitalism and Agriculture 
in the United States of America. 1917 



A leading country of modern capitalism is of especial 
interest to the study of the socio-economic structure and 
evolution of present-day agriculture. The U.S.A. is unri- 
valled either in the rate of development of capitalism at the 
turn of the century, or in the record level of capitalist 
development already attained; nor has it any rival in the 
vastness of the territory developed with the use of the most 
up-to-date machinery, which is adapted to the remarkable 
variety of natural and historical conditions or in the 
extent of the political liberty and the cultural level of the 
mass of the population. That country, indeed, is in many 
respects the model for our bourgeois civilisation and is its 

The study of the forms and laws of agricultural evolu- 
tion is made easier in the U.S.A. by its decennial censuses 
of population, which are coupled with remarkably detailed 
descriptions of all industrial and agricultural enterprises. 
This yields a wealth of exact information that is unavail- 
able in any other country; it helps to verify many popular 
notions, most of which are very loosely formulated and 
repeated without criticism, and usually serve to funnel bour- 
geois views and prejudices. 

Mr. Himmer in the June (1913) issue of Zavety 2 gives some 
data from the latest, Thirteenth (1910) Census, and on this 
basis reiterates the most popular and thoroughly bourgeois 
contention — bourgeois both as regards its theoretical basis 
and political significance — that "the vast majority of farms 
in the United States employ only family labour"; that "in 
the more highly developed areas agricultural capitalism is 
disintegrating"; that "in the great majority of areas ... 
small-scale farming by owner-operators is becoming ever 
more dominant"; that it is precisely "in the older cultivated 



areas with a higher level of economic development" that 
"capitalist agriculture is disintegrating and production is 
breaking up into smaller units"; that "there are no areas 
where colonisation is no longer continuing, or where large- 
scale capitalist agriculture is not decaying and is not being 
replaced by family-labour farms", and so on and so forth. 

All these assertions are monstrously untrue. They are 
in direct contradiction to reality. They are a sheer mockery 
of the truth. Their incorrectness ought to be explained in 
detail for a very good reason: Mr. Himmer is not the man in 
the street, he is not a casual contributor of a casual maga- 
zine article, but one of the most prominent economists 
representing the most democratic, extreme Left-wing bourgeois 
trend in Russian and European social thinking. That is pre- 
cisely why Mr. Himmer's views may have, and indeed already 
have among some non-proletarian sections of the population, 
particularly wide circulation and influence. They are not 
merely his personal views, nor his individual mistakes, but 
are rather an expression — couched in the most democratic 
terms and heavily embellished with pseudo-socialist phrase- 
ology — of general bourgeois views which in the atmosphere of 
a capitalist society are most readily accepted both by the 
smug professor, treading the beaten path, and the small 
farmer who is more intelligent than millions of his fellows. 

The theory of the non-capitalist evolution of agricul- 
ture in capitalist society, which Mr. Himmer advocates, is 
really the theory of the great majority of bourgeois profes- 
sors and bourgeois democrats and also of opportunists in the 
labour movement of the whole world who are the latest 
variety of those selfsame bourgeois democrats. It is no exag- 
geration to say that this theory is an illusion, a dream, a 
delusion under which the whole of bourgeois society is 
labouring. In devoting my further exposition to the refuta- 
tion of this theory, I shall try to give a complete picture of 
capitalism in American agriculture, because one of the main 
mistakes made by bourgeois economists is to isolate facts 
and figures, major and minor, from the general context of 
politico-economic relations. All my data are taken from 
official statistical publications of the United States of North 
America, including above all the volumes Five, devoted to 
agriculture, of the Twelfth and Thirteenth censuses taken in 



1900 and 1910 respectively,* and also the Statistical Abstract 
of the United States for 1911. Having mentioned these sources, 
I shall not give references to pages or tables for each 
separate figure, as this would only burden the reader and 
needlessly encumber the text; anyone interested enough 
will easily find the data in question from the tables of con- 
tents in these publications. 


The vast area of the United States, which is only slightly 
smaller than the whole of Europe, and the great diversity 
of farming conditions in the various parts of the country 
make absolutely imperative a separate study of the major 
divisions, each with its peculiar economic status. American 
statisticians adopted five geographical divisions in 1900, 
and nine in 1910. (1) New England — six states on the 
Atlantic coast in the north-east (Maine, New Hampshire, 
Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut); 
(2) Middle Atlantic (New York, New Jersey, and Pennsyl- 
vania) — in 1900 these two divisions formed the North 
Atlantic division; (3) East North Central (Ohio, Indiana, 
Illinois, Michigan, and Wisconsin); (4) West North Central 
(Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, North and South Dakota, 
Nebraska, and Kansas) — in 1900, the last two made up the 
North Central division; (5) South Atlantic (Delaware, 
Maryland, District of Columbia, Virginia, West Virginia, 
North and South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida) — unchanged 
from 1900; (6) East South Central (Kentucky, Tennessee, 
Alabama, and Mississippi); (7) West South Central 
(Arkansas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, and Texas) — in 1900, 
the last two made up the South Central division; (8) Moun- 
tain (Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Colorado, New Mexico, 
Arizona, Utah, and Nevada); and (9) Pacific (Washington, 
Oregon, and California) — in 1900, the last two made up the 
Western division. 

* Census Reports. Twelfth Census 1900. Vol. V. Agriculture, 
Wash. 1902. — Thirteenth Census of the United States, Taken in the 
Year 1910. Vol. V. Agriculture, Wash. 1913. 



The excessive patchwork of these divisions prompted 
American statisticians in 1910 to compress them into three 
main sections— the North (1-4), the South (5-7) and the West 
(8-9). We shall presently see that this division into three 
main sections is really most important and vital, although 
here, too, as in everything else, there are transitional types, 
so that on some basic points New England and the Middle 
Atlantic states will have to be considered separately. 

In order to define the fundamental distinction between 
the three main sections, let us designate them as the indus- 
trial North, the former slave-owning South and the home- 
stead West. 

Here are the figures on their area, percentage of improved* 
land, and population: 

Sections Total Land Area Percentage of Population 

(000,000 acres) improved land (1910) 


The North 588 49 56 

The South 562 27 29 

The West 753 5 7 

The U.S.A. 1,903 25 92 

The North and the South have approximately the same 
area, while the West is nearly half as large again as either. 
The population of the North, however, is eight times that of 
the West, which, one might say, is hardly populated. How 
rapidly it is being settled is evident from the fact that in 
the 10 years between 1900 and 1910, the population in the 
North increased by 18 per cent; the South, by 20 per cent; 
and the West, by 67 per cent! There is hardly any increase 
in the number of farms in the North: 2,874,000 in 1900, and 
2,891,000 in 1910 (+0.6 per cent); in the South the number 
increased by 18 per cent, from 2,600,000 to 3,100,000; and 
in the West, by 54 per cent, i.e., more than half as much 
again, from 243,000 to 373,000. 

* The 1910 Census defined farmland as consisting of (1) improved 
land, (2) woodlands and (3) all other unimproved land. Improved 
land includes all land regularly tilled or mowed, land pastured and 
cropped in rotation, land lying fallow, land in gardens, orchards, 
vineyards, and nurseries, and land occupied by farm buildings. — Tr. 



How land is being settled in the West is seen from the 
data on homesteads, which are parcels of land, mostly of 160 
acres, i.e., about 65 dessiatines, allocated by the government 
free of charge or at a nominal price. In the 10 years be- 
tween 1901 and 1910, the area occupied by homesteads in the 
North was 55.3 million acres (including 54.3 million, i.e., 
more than 98 per cent, in one division alone, namely the 
West North Central); the area in the South was 20 million 
acres (including 17.3 million in one division, the West 
South Central), and in the West, it was 55.3 million acres 
spread over both divisions. This means that the West is a 
solid homestead area, i.e., one where unoccupied land is 
given away practically free — somewhat similar to the squat- 
ter land tenure in the outlying districts of Russia, except 
that it is not regulated by a feudal state, but in a democratic 
manner (I very nearly said: in a Narodnik manner; the 
American Republic has implemented in a capitalist way 
the "Narodnik" idea of distributing unoccupied land to 
all applicants). The North and the South, however, each 
have only one homestead division, which may be regarded 
as a transitional type from the unsettled West to the settled 
North and South. Let us note, by the way, that only in two 
divisions of the North — the New England and the Middle 
Atlantic — were there absolutely no homestead grants made 
in the last decade. We shall later have to return to these two 
most highly industrialised divisions, where there is no 
longer any homesteading at all. 

The above figures on homesteads refer only to claims that 
have been staked and not to those actually settled; we have 
no figures on the latter for the various divisions. But even 
if these returns are somewhat exaggerated as absolute 
magnitudes, they are, at any rate, a faithful reflection of the 
relative importance of homesteads in the various divi- 
sions. In the North in 1910 the farms totalled 414 million 
acres, so that homestead claims in the last 10 years came to 
about one-eighth of the total; in the South, about one- 
seventeenth (20 out of 354); and in the West, one-half 
(55 out of 111)! To lump together data on areas with hardly 
any land ownership at all, and data on areas where all the 
land is occupied, would be to make nonsense of scientific 



America provides the most graphic confirmation of the 
truth emphasised by Marx in Capital? Volume III, that capi- 
talism in agriculture does not depend on the form of land 
ownership or land tenure. Capital finds the most diverse 
types of medieval and patriarchal landed property — feudal, 
"peasant allotments" (i.e., the holdings of bonded peasants); 
clan, communal, state, and other forms of land ownership. 
Capital takes hold of all these, employing a variety of ways 
and methods. For agricultural statistics to be properly and 
rationally compiled, the methods of investigation, tabula- 
tion, etc., would have to be modified to correspond to the 
forms of capitalist penetration into agriculture; for instance, 
the homesteads would have to be put into a special group 
and their economic fate traced. Unfortunately, however, 
the statistics are all too often dominated by routine and 
meaningless, mechanical repetition of the same old methods. 

How extensive agriculture is in the West, as compared 
with the other sections, is evident, by the way, from the 
data on expenditures for artificial fertilisers. In 1909, the 
expenditure per acre of improved land was 13 cents ($0.13) 
in the North; 50 cents, in the South, and only 6 cents in the 
West. The South has the highest figure because cotton 
demands great quantities of fertilisers, and the South is 
primarily a cotton-growing area: cotton and tobacco account 
for 46.8 per cent of the total value of all its farm crops; 
grain, only 29.3 per cent; hay and forage, 5.1 per cent. By 
contrast, grain leads in the North with 62.6 per cent, fol- 
lowed by 18.8 per cent of hay and forage, most of which is 
cultivated. In the West, grain accounts for 33.1 per cent 
of the total value of all farm crops; hay and forage, with 
wild grasses predominating, 31.7 per cent, while fruits, a 
special branch of commercial farming rapidly developing 
on the Pacific coast, account for 15.5 per cent of the total 


By 1910, the urban population in the North reached 58.6 
per cent of the total, as compared with 22.5 per cent in the 
South and 48.8 per cent in the West. The role of industry 
is evident from these figures: 



Value of products ($000,000,000) 

s Live- Total Manufactures 
stock less cost of raw 


Workers in 

The North 
The South 
The West 






The U.S.A. 






The total crop value is here overstated because a part 
of the crops, such as feed, recurs in the value of the live- 
stock products. But in any case these figures show conclu- 
sively that almost five-sixths of American manufacture is 
concentrated in the North, and that manufacture prevails 
over agriculture in that section. The South and the West, 
on the contrary, are predominantly agricultural. 

The above table shows that the North differs from the 
South and the West by a comparatively greater development 
of industry, which creates a market and makes for the inten- 
sification of agriculture. The North — "industrial" in that 
sense — nevertheless still remains the largest producer of 
agricultural products. More than one-half, actually about 
three-fifths, of agricultural production, is concentrated in 
the North. How much more intensive farming is in the North, 
as compared with the other sections, will be seen from the 
following figures on the per-acre value of all farm property — 
land, buildings, implements and machinery, and livestock. 
In 1910, it was $66 in the North, as compared with $25 
in the South, and $41 in the West. The per-acre value of 
implements and machinery alone was $2.07 in the North, 
$0.83 in the South, and $1.04 in the West. 

The New England and Middle Atlantic divisions stand out 
in this picture. As I have already pointed out there is no 
new homesteading in these parts. From 1900 to 1910, there 
was an absolute decrease in the number of farms, and in the 
total and in the improved acreage of the farms. Employment 
returns show that only 10 per cent of the population there 
is engaged in farming, as compared with a 33 per cent aver- 
age for the U.S.A., 25 to 41 per cent for the other divisions 
of the North, and 51 to 63 per cent for the South. Only 6 to 
25 per cent of the improved acreage in these two divisions 



is under cereal crops (the average for the U.S.A. is 40 per 
cent, and for the North, 46 per cent); 52 to 29 per cent is 
under grasses, mostly cultivated (as against 15 per cent and 
18 per cent); and 4.6 to 3.8 per cent is under vegetables 
(as against 1.5 and 1.5 per cent). This is the area of the 
most intensive agriculture. The average expenditure for 
fertilisers per acre of improved land in 1909 was $1.30 and 
$0.62 respectively; the former being the U.S. maximum, and 
the latter, second only to that of one division in the South. 
The average value of implements and machinery per acre 
of improved land was $2.58, and $3.88 — the maximum 
figures for the U.S.A. We shall later see that in these most 
industrialised divisions of the industrial North, agriculture 
is the most intensive and has the most pronounced capital- 
ist character. 


The United States of America, writes Mr. Himmer, is 
a "country which has never known feudalism and is free from 
its economic survivals" (p. 41 of his article). This is the 
very opposite of the truth, for the economic survivals of 
slavery are not in any way distinguishable from those of 
feudalism, and in the former slave-owning South of the 
U.S.A. these survivals are still very powerful. It would 
not be worth while to dwell on Mr. Himmer's mistake if it 
were merely one in a hastily written article. But all liberal 
and all Narodnik writings in Russia show that the very 
same "mistake" is being made regularly and with unusual 
stubbornness with regard to the Russian labour-service sys- 
tem, our own survival of feudalism. 

The South of the U.S.A. was slave-owning until slavery 
was swept away by the Civil War of 1861-65. To this day, 
the Negroes, who make up no more than from 0.7 to 2.2 per 
cent of the population in the North and the West, consti- 
tute from 22.6 to 33.7 per cent of the population in the 
South. For the U.S.A. as a whole, the Negroes constitute 
10.7 per cent of the population. There is no need to elabo- 
rate on the degraded social status of the Negroes: the Ameri- 
can bourgeoisie is in no way better in this respect than the 
bourgeoisie of any other country. Having "freed" the Negroes, 


it took good care, under "free", republican-democratic 
capitalism, to restore everything possible, and do everything 
possible and impossible for the most shameless and des- 
picable oppression of the Negroes. A minor statistical fact 
will illustrate their cultural level. While the proportion 
of illiterates in 1900 among the white population of the 
U.S.A. of 10 years of age and over was 6.2 per cent, among 
the Negroes it was as high as 44.5 per cent! More than 
seven times as high! In the North and the West illit- 
eracy amounted from 4 to 6 per cent (1900), while in the 
South it was from 22.9 to 23.9 per cent! One can easily 
imagine the complex of legal and social relationships that 
corresponds to this disgraceful fact from the sphere of 
popular literacy. 

What then is the economic basis that has produced and 
continues to support this fine "superstructure"? 

It is the typically Russian, "purely Russian" labour- 
service system, which is known as share-cropping. 

In 1910, Negroes owned 920,883 farms, i.e., 14.5 per 
cent of the total. Of the total number of farmers, 37 per 
cent were tenants; 62.1 per cent, owners; the remaining 0.9 
per cent of the farms were run by managers. But among the 
whites 39.2 per cent were tenant farmers, and among the 
Negroes — 75.3 per cent! The typical white farmer in America 
is an owner, the typical Negro farmer is a tenant. The pro- 
portion of tenants in the West was only 14 per cent: this 
section is being settled, with new lands unoccupied, and 
is an El Dorado (a short-lived and unreliable El Dorado, to be sure) 
for the small "independent farmer". In the North, the propor- 
tion of tenant farmers was 26.5 per cent, and in the South, 
49.6 per cent! Half of the Southern farmers were tenants. 

But that is not all. These are not even tenants in the 
European, civilised, modern-capitalist sense of the word. 
They are chiefly semi-feudal or — which is the same thing in 
economic terms — semi-slave share-croppers. In the "free" 
West, share-croppers were in the minority (25,000 out of a 
total of 53,000 tenants). In the old North, which was settled 
long ago, 483,000 out of 766,000 tenant farmers, i.e., 
63 per cent, were share-croppers. In the South, 1,021,000 
out of 1,537,000 tenant farmers, i.e., 66 per cent, were 



In 1910, free, republican-democratic America had 1,500,000 
share-croppers, of whom more than 1,000,000 were Negroes. 
And the proportion of share-croppers to the total number 
of farmers is not decreasing, but is on the contrary steadily 
and rather rapidly increasing. In 1880, 17.5 per cent 
of the farmers in the U.S.A. were share-croppers, in 1890, 
18.4 per cent; in 1900, 22.2 per cent; and in 1910, 
24 per cent. 

American statisticians draw the following conclusions 
from the 1910 returns: 

"In the South the conditions have at all times been 
somewhat different from those in the North, and many of the 
tenant farms are parts of plantations of considerable size 
which date from before the Civil War." In the South, "the 
system of operation by tenants — chiefly coloured tenants — 

has succeeded the system of operation by slave labour 

The development of the tenant system is most conspicuous in 
the South, where the large plantations formerly operated by 
slave labour have in many cases been broken up into small 
parcels or tracts and leased to tenants These planta- 
tions are in many cases still operated substantially as agri- 
cultural units, the tenants being subjected to a degree of 
supervision more or less similar to that which hired farm 
labourers are subjected to in the North" (op. cit., Vol. V, 
pp. 102, 104). 

To show what the South is like, it is essential to add 
that its population is fleeing to other capitalist areas and 
to the towns, just as the peasantry in Russia is fleeing 
from the most backward central agricultural gubernias, where 
the survivals of serfdom have been most greatly preserved, 
in order to escape the rule of the notorious Markovs, to those 
areas of Russia which have a higher level of capitalist 
development, to the metropolitan cities, the industrial guber- 
nias and the South (see The Development of Capitalism in 
Russia*). The share-cropping area, both in America and in 
Russia, is the most stagnant area, where the masses are 
subjected to the greatest degradation and oppression. Immi- 
grants to America, who have such an outstanding role to play 
in the country's economy and all its social life, shun the 

See present edition, Vol. 3, pp. 586-91. — Ed. 


South. In 1910, the foreign-born formed 14.5 per cent of 
the total population of America. But in the South the figure 
was only 1 to 4 per cent for the several divisions, whereas 
in the other divisions the proportion of incomers ranged 
from not less than 13.9 per cent to 27.7 per cent (New Eng- 
land). For the "emancipated" Negroes, the American South 
is a kind of prison where they are hemmed in, isolated and 
deprived of fresh air. The South is distinguished by the 
immobility of its population and by the greatest "attachment 
to the land": with the exception of that division of the 
South, which still has considerable homesteading (West 
South Central), 91 to 92 per cent of the population in the two 
other divisions of the South resided in the same division 
where they were born, whereas for the United States as a 
whole the figure was 72.6 per cent, i.e., the mobility of the 
population is much greater. In the West, which is a solid 
homestead area, only 35 to 41 per cent of the population 
lived in the division of their birth. 

Negroes are in full flight from the two Southern divi- 
sions where there is no homesteading: in the 10 years 
between the last two censuses, these two divisions provided 
other parts of the country with almost 600,000 "black" 
people. The Negroes flee mainly to the towns: in the 
South, 77 to 80 per cent of all the Negroes live in rural commu- 
nities; in other areas, only 8 to 32 per cent. Thus it turns 
out that there is a startling similarity in the economic 
status of the Negroes in America and the peasants in the 
heart of agricultural Russia who "were formerly landowners'" 
serfs . 


Having examined the chief distinctive features of the 
three main sections of the U.S.A., as well as the general 
nature of their economic conditions, we can now proceed to 
an analysis of the data most commonly referred to. These 
are primarily data on the average acreage of farms. It 
is on the basis of these data that a great many economists, 
including Mr. Himmer, draw the most categorical conclu- 



Average acreage per farm in the U.S.A. 
Years All farmland Improved land 

1850 202.6 78.0 

1860 199.2 79.8 

1870 153.3 71.0 

1880 133.7 71.0 

1890 136.5 78.3 

1900 146.2 72.2 

1910 138.1 75.2 

On the whole, there seems at first glance to be a reduc- 
tion in the average acreage of all farmland and an uncertain 
fluctuation — upward and downward — in the average 
improved acreage. But there is a distinct break in the 1860-70 
period and this I have indicated by a line. During that 
period there was an enormous decrease in the average acreage 
of all farmland by 46 acres (from 199.2 to 153.3) and the 
greatest change (from 79.8 to 71.0), also a reduction, in 
the average acreage of improved land. 

What was the reason? Obviously, the Civil War of 1861-65 
and the abolition of slavery. A decisive blow was dealt at 
the latifundia of the slave-owners. Further on we shall 
see repeated confirmation of this fact, but it is so generally 
known that it is surprising that it needs any proof at all. 
Let us separate the returns for the North and those for the 

Average acreage 

per farm 




All farm- 


All farm- 









































We find that in the South the average improved acreage 
per farm between 1860 and 1870 greatly decreased (from 101.3 
to 69.2), and that in the North it slightly increased (from 
68.3 to 69.2). This means that the cause lay in the specific 
conditions of evolution in the South. There we find even 


after the abolition of slavery, a reduction in the average 
acreage of farms, although the process is slow and not 

Mr. Himmer's deduction is that in the South "the small- 
scale family farms are extending their domination, while 
capital is leaving agriculture for other spheres of invest- 
ment Agricultural capitalism is rapidly disintegrating 

in the South Atlantic states...". 

This is an amusing assertion likely to be matched only 
in the arguments of our Narodniks on the "disintegration of 
capitalism" in Russia after 1861 in consequence of the land- 
lords abandoning corvee for the labour-service (i.e., semi- 
corvee!) system of economy. The break-up of the slave- 
worked latifundia is called the "disintegration of capital- 
ism". The transformation of the unimproved land of yester- 
day's slave-owners into the small farms of Negroes, half of 
whom are share-croppers (it should be borne in mind that the 
proportion of share-croppers has been steadily growing from 
census to census!), is called the "disintegration of capital- 
ism". It is hardly possible to go any further in distorting 
the fundamental concepts of economics! 

Chapter Twelve of the 1910 Census supplies information 
on typical Southern "plantations" — not of the old slave 
period, but of our own day. On the 39,073 plantations there 
are 39,073 "landlord farms" and 398,905 tenant farms, or an 
average of 10 tenants per landlord or "master". Planta- 
tions average 724 acres, of which only 405 acres is improved, 
more than 300 acres being unimproved, not a bad reserve for 
the gentlemen who were the slave-owners of yesterday to 
draw on in extending their plans of exploitation.... 

Land on the average plantation is distributed as fol- 
lows: "landlord" farm — 331 acres, of which 87 is improved. 
"Tenant" farms, i.e., the parcels of the Negro share-croppers, 
who continue to work for the master and under his eye, 
average 38 acres, of which 31 is improved land. 

As the population and the demand for cotton increase, the 
former slave-owners of the South begin to parcel out their 
vast latifundia, nine-tenths of the land on which is still 
unimproved, into small tracts which are either sold to the 
Negroes or, more frequently, leased to them on a half-crop 
basis. (From 1900 to 1910, the number of farmers in the 



South who were full owners of all their farmland increased 
from 1,237,000 to 1,329,000, i.e., 7.5 per cent, while the 
number of share-croppers went up from 772,000 to 1,021,000, 
i.e., 32.2 per cent.) And yet an economist has appeared who 
says this is "disintegration of capitalism".... 

I designate as latifundia farms with an area of 1,000 
acres and over. In 1910, the proportion of such farms in the 
U.S.A. was 0.8 per cent (50,135 farms), and they added up to 
167.1 million acres, or 19.0 per cent of the total amount of 
land. This is an average of 3,332 acres per latifundium. 
Only 18.7 per cent of their acreage was improved while for 
all farms the figure was 54.4 per cent. The capitalist North 
has the smallest number of latifundia: 0.5 per cent of the 
total number of farms accounting for 6.9 per cent of the 
land, 41.1 per cent of which is improved. The West has the 
greatest number of latifundia: 3.9 per cent of the total number 
of farms accounting for 48.3 per cent of the land; 32.3 per 
cent of the land in the latifundia is improved. But it is in 
the former slave-owning South that the latifundia have the 
highest proportion of unimproved land: 0.7 per cent of the 
farms are latifundia; they account for 23.9 per cent of the 
land; only 8.5 per cent of the land in the latifundia is 
improved! Incidentally, these detailed statistics clearly show 
that there is really no foundation for the common practice 
of classifying the latifundia as capitalist enterprises, with- 
out a detailed analysis of the specific data for each country 
and each area. 

During the 10 years from 1900 to 1910, the total acreage 
of the latifundia, but only of the latifundia, showed a 
decrease. The reduction was quite substantial: from 197.8 
million to 167.1 million acres, i.e., 30.7 million acres. 
In the South, there was a reduction of 31.8 million acres 
(in the North, an increase of 2.3 million, and in the West, 
a reduction of 1.2 million). Consequently, it is in the South, 
and in the slave-owning South alone, that the latifundia, 
with their negligible proportion (8.5 per cent) of improved 
land, are being broken up on a really vast scale. 

The inescapable conclusion is that the only exact definition 
of the economic process under way is — a transition from the 
slave-holding latifundia, nine-tenths of which remained 
unimproved, to small commercial agriculture. It is a transi- 



tion to commercial farms and not to farms worked by family 
labour, as Mr. Himmer and the Narodniks, together with 
all the bourgeois economists who sing cheap hymns to 
"labour", love to say. The term "family labour" has no politi- 
co-economic meaning and is indirectly misleading. It is 
devoid of meaning because the small farmer "labours" under 
any social system of economy, be it slavery, serfdom or 
capitalism. The term "family labour" is just an empty phrase, 
pure oratory which serves to cover up the confusion of 
entirely different social forms of economic organisation — a 
confusion from which the bourgeoisie alone stands to gain. 
The term "family labour" is misleading and deceives the 
public, for it creates the impression that hired labour is not 

Mr. Himmer, like all bourgeois economists, evades just 
these statistics on hired labour, although they are the most 
important data on the question of capitalism in agriculture 
and although they are to be found in the 1900 Census report, 
as well as in the 1910 Abstract — Farm Crops, by States, 
which Mr. Himmer himself quotes (note on p. 49 of his 

The nature of the staple crop of the South shows that the 
growth of small-scale agriculture in the South is nothing 
but the growth of commercial farming. That crop is cotton. 
Cereals yield 29.3 per cent of the total crop value in the 
South; hay and forage, 5.1 per cent; and cotton, 42.7 per 
cent. From 1870 to 1910, the production of wool in the 
U.S.A. went up from 162 million lbs. to 321 million lbs., 
i.e., it doubled; wheat, increased from 236 million to 635 
million bushels, i.e., less than threefold; corn, from 1,094 
million to 2,886 million bushels, also less than threefold; 
and cotton, from 4,000,000 bales (of 500 lbs. each) to 
12,000,000, i.e., threefold. The growth of the crop that 
is primarily commercial was faster than that of other, less 
commercialised, crops. In addition, there was in the main 
division of the South, the South Atlantic, a rather substan- 
tial development of tobacco production (12.1 per cent of 
the crop value in the State of Virginia); vegetables (20.1 per 
cent of the total crop value in the State of Delaware, 
23.2 per cent in the State of Florida); fruits (21.3 per cent of 
the total crop value in the State of Florida); etc. The nature 



of all these crops implies an intensification of farming, a 
larger scale of operations on smaller acreages, and greater 
employment of hired labour. 

I shall now proceed to a detailed analysis of the returns 
on hired labour; let us note only that the employment of 
hired labour is also growing in the South, although in this 
respect it lags behind the other sections — less hired labour 
is employed because of the wider practice of semi-slave share- 


Capitalism in agriculture is usually gauged by the data 
on the size of farms or the number and importance of big 
farms (in terms of acreage). I have examined some of these 
data and shall return to the problem later on, but it must 
be said that all these are, after all, indirect indications, 
for acreage is not always an indication, and not by any 
means a direct indication, that a farm is really big as an 
economic enterprise, or that it is capitalist in character. 

In this respect the data on hired labour are far more 
indicative and offer better proof. Agricultural censuses 
taken in recent years, such as the Austrian of 1902 and the 
German of 1907, which I shall examine elsewhere, show that 
the employment of hired labour in present-day agriculture — 
and especially in small-scale farming — is much greater than 
is generally believed. Nothing so obviously and categorically 
refutes the petty-bourgeois myth about small "family" 
farms as do these figures. 

American statisticians have collected very extensive 
material on this, for each farmer's individual census form 
asks whether he spends anything on hired labour, and, if he 
does, exactly how much. In contrast to European statistics — 
such as those of the two countries just named — no record is 
made in American statistics of the number of hired labourers 
employed at the time by each farmer, although that could 
be easily discovered, and the scientific value of such in- 
formation, in addition to the returns on the total expendi- 
ture on hired labour, would indeed be very great. But the 
worst thing is the very poor tabulation of these returns in 
the 1910 Census, which is in general presented much more 
poorly than the 1900 Census. The 1910 Census groups all 


farms by acreage (as does the 1900 Census) but, by contrast, 
it does not give any figures on the employment of hired 
labour by these groups. This makes it impossible for us to com- 
pare the employment of hired labour by farms with small 
and with large acreages. The Census merely gives the average 
figures for the states and the sections, i.e., data lumping 
together capitalist and non-capitalist farms. 

I shall make a special point of going into the more elabo- 
rate data for 1900 later on; meanwhile, here are the figures 
for 1910; in fact they relate to 1899 and 1909. 


The North 
The South 
The West 

Percentage of 
farm hiring 


Increase of expen- 
diture on hired 
(per cent) 

+ 70.8 
+ 87.1 

Expenditure on hired 
labour per acre of 
improved land ($) 





The U.S.A. 


+ 82.3 



The first thing that is made obvious by these figures 
is that agriculture is most capitalistic in the North (55.1 
per cent of farms employ hired labour); then, follows the 
West (52.5 per cent) and, lastly, the South (36.6 per cent). 
That is just as it should be when any densely populated and 
industrial area is being compared with an area still under- 
going colonisation and with an area of share-cropping. 
It goes without saying that figures on the proportion of farms 
employing hired labour are more suitable for a precise com- 
parison of the sections than data on the expenditure on hired 
labour per acre of improved land. For the latter type of 
data to be comparable, the level of wages in the sections 
would have to be the same. No information on farm wages in 
the U.S.A. is available but in the light of the basic dis- 
tinctions between the sections it is inconceivable that 
their wage levels are the same. 

Thus, in the North and in the West — the two sections 
which together have two-thirds of the improved land and 
two-thirds of the livestock — more than one-half the farmers 
cannot manage without hired labour. The proportion is 
smaller in the South only because there the semi-feudal (alias 



semi-slave) system of exploitation in the form of share-crop- 
ping is still strong. There is no doubt that in America, as 
in all the other capitalist countries, a part of the handi- 
capped farmers have to sell their labour-power. Unfortunately, 
American statistics do not contain any information about 
this, in contrast, for example, to the 1907 German statis- 
tics, in which these data have been collected and worked out 
in detail. According to the German statistics, hiring them- 
selves out as labourers is the main occupation of 1,940,867 
persons, i.e., over 30 per cent, of the 5,736,082 owners of 
farms (a total which includes the very small '"owners"). To 
be sure, the mass of these farm-hands and day-labourers with 
a bit of land of their own belong to the poorest groups of 

Let us assume that in the U.S.A., where the smallest 
farms (of less than three acres) are as a general rule not 
registered at all, only 10 per cent of the farmers sell their 
labour-power. Even then we find that more than one-third 
of the farmers are directly exploited by the landlords and 
capitalists (24 per cent share-croppers who are exploited 
by former slave-owners in feudal or semi-feudal fashion, plus 
10 per cent who are exploited by the capitalists, or alto- 
gether 34 per cent). This means that of the total number of 
farmers a minority, hardly more than one-fifth or one-quarter, 
neither hire labourers nor hire themselves out or sell them- 
selves into bondage. 

Such is the actual state of affairs in the country of 
"model and advanced" capitalism, in the country with free 
distribution of millions of dessiatines of land. Here again 
the famous non-capitalist, small-scale "family" farming 
proves to be a myth. 

How many hired labourers are engaged in American agri- 
culture? Is their number increasing or decreasing in propor- 
tion to the total number of farmers and the total rural 

It is regrettable that American statistics do not pro- 
vide a direct answer to these highly important questions. 
Let us find an approximate answer. 

Firstly, we can obtain an approximate answer from the 
returns on occupations (Volume IV of the Census reports). 
These statistics are not an American "success". They are 


compiled in such a routine, mechanical, incongruous manner 
that they contain no information on the status of the per- 
sons employed, i.e., no distinction is made between farmers, 
family workers, and hired labourers. Instead of making a 
precise economic classification, the compilers were content 
to use "popular" terminology, absurdly bracketing members of 
farmers' families and hired labourers under the head of 
farm workers. As we know it is not only in American statis- 
tics that there is complete chaos on this question. 

The 1910 Census makes an attempt to bring some order 
into this chaos, to correct the obvious mistakes and to sepa- 
rate at least a part of the hired labourers (those working 
out) from members of the family working on the home farm. 
In a series of calculations the statisticians correct the total 
number of persons engaged in farming, reducing it by 
468,100 (Vol. IV, p. 27). The number of females working 
out is set at 220,048 for 1900, and 337,522 for 1910 (an in- 
crease of 53 per cent). The number of males working out 
in 1910 was 2,299,444. Assuming that in 1900 the proportion 
of hired labourers to the total number of farm workers was 
the same as in 1910, the number of males working out in 
1900 must have been 1,798,165. We then obtain this picture: 

1900 1910 Increase 

(per cent) 

Total engaged in agriculture . 10,381,756 12,099,825 + 16 

Number of farmers 5,674,875 5,981,522 + 5 

Number of hired labourers . . 2,018,213 2,566,966 + 27 

That is, the percentage increase in the number of hired 
labourers was over five times greater than in that of farmers 
(27 per cent and 5 per cent). The proportion of farmers in 
the rural population decreased; the proportion of hired 
labourers increased. The proportion of independent farm 
operators to the total farming population dropped; the num- 
ber of dependent, exploited persons, increased. 

In 1907, hired farm labourers in Germany numbered 4.5 
million out of a total of 15 million persons working on the 
home farm and working out. Consequently, 30 per cent were 
hired labourers. In America, according to the estimate given 
above, the figure was 2.5 million out of 12 million, i.e., 
21 per cent. It is possible that the availability of vacant 



land distributed free, and the high percentage of share- 
cropping tenants tended to lower the percentage of hired 
labourers in America. 

Secondly, an approximate answer may be provided by the 
figures on expenditure on hired labour in 1899 and 1909. 
During the same period, the number of industrial wage-work- 
ers increased from 4.7 million to 6.6 million, i.e., 40 per 
cent, and their wages from $2,008 million to $3,427 million, 
i.e., 70 per cent. (It should be borne in mind that the rise 
in the cost of living cancelled out this nominal increase in 

On the strength of this we may assume that the 82 per 
cent increase in expenditure on hired farm labour corre- 
sponds to an increase of approximately 48 per cent in the 
number of hired labourers. Making a similar assumption for 
the three main sections we obtain the following picture: 


increase from 1900 

to 1910 


Total rural 

Number of 

Number of 





The North 

+ 3.9 

+ 0.6 

+ 40 

The South 

+ 14.8 

+ 18.2 

+ 50 

The West 

+ 49.7 

+ 53.7 

+ 66 

The U.S.A. 

+ 11.2 

+ 10.9 

+ 48 

These figures also show that for the country as a whole 
the increase in the number of farmers is not keeping pace 
with the growth of the rural population, while the increase 
in the number of hired labourers is outstripping the growth 
of the rural population. In other words: the proportion of 
independent farm operators is decreasing, and the proportion 
of dependent farm workers is increasing. 

It should be noted that the great difference between the 
increase in the number of hired labourers obtained in the 
first estimate ( + 27 per cent) and in the second ( + 48 per 
cent) is quite possible because in the former only the pro- 
fessional farm labourers were enumerated, and in the latter, 
every instance of employment of hired labour was taken into 
account. In farming, seasonal hired labour is highly impor- 
tant, and it should be the rule, therefore, that it is never 
enough to determine the number of hired labourers, permanent 


and seasonal, but that an effort must also be made to deter- 
mine, as far as possible, the total expenditure on hired 

At any rate, both estimates definitely show a growth 
of capitalism in agriculture in the U.S.A., and an increase 
in the employment of hired labour, which is proceeding at a 
faster pace than the growth of the rural population and of 
the number of farmers. 


Having examined the general data on hired labour as the 
most direct indicator of capitalism in agriculture, we can 
now go on to a more detailed analysis of the specific forms 
assumed by capitalism in this particular branch of the 

We have taken a look at one area with a shrinking aver- 
age acreage of farms, namely, the South, where the process 
signifies a transition from latifundia worked by slaves to 
small-scale commercial farms. There is another area where 
the average acreage of farms is diminishing — a part of the 
North: New England and the Middle Atlantic states. Here 
are the figures for these divisions: 

Average acreage per farm (improved land) 

New England Middle Atlantic States 

1850 66.5 70.8 

1860 66.4 70.3 

1870 66.4 69.2 

1880 63.4 68.0 

1890 56.5 67.4 

1900 42.4 63.4 

1910 38.4 62.6 

The average farm in New England is smaller than in any 
other division of the U.S.A. In two Southern divisions 
the average is 42 to 43 acres, and in the third, the West 
South Central, where homesteading is still going on, it is 
61.8 acres, i.e., almost as much as in the Middle Atlantic 
states. It is the reduction in the average size of farms in 
New England and the Middle Atlantic states, "the areas 
with an older culture and a higher level of economic develop- 
ment" (Mr. Himmer, p. 60), where homesteading is no longer 
taking place, that has led Mr. Himmer, as it has very many 



other bourgeois economists, to draw the conclusion that "capi- 
talist agriculture is disintegrating", that "production is 
breaking up into smaller units", that there are "no areas 
where colonisation is no longer continuing, or where large- 
scale capitalist agriculture is not decaying and is not being 
replaced by family-labour farms". 

Mr. Himmer arrived at these conclusions, which are the 
very opposite of the truth, because he forgot a mere "trifle": 
the intensification of agriculture! It is incredible, but 
it is a fact. This matter requires a particularly thorough 
analysis because quite a few bourgeois economists, almost 
all in fact, contrive to forget this "trifle" when dealing with 
small and large-scale production in agriculture, although 
"in theory" they are all "aware" of and accept the inten- 
sification of farming. This is indeed one of the basic sources 
of all the misadventures of bourgeois (including Narodnik 
and opportunist) economics on the question of small 
"family" farms. The "trifle" they forget is this: owing to the 
technical peculiarities of agriculture, the process of its in- 
tensification frequently leads to a reduction in the improved 
acreage on the farm, and at the same time expands it as an 
economic unit, increasing its output, and making it more 
and more of a capitalist enterprise. 

Let us first see whether or not there is any fundamental 
difference in farming techniques, in the general character 
of farming and degree of its intensification between New 
England and the Middle Atlantic states, on the one hand, 
and between the rest of the North and the country's other 
divisions, on the other. 

The differences in the crops grown are shown in the 
following table: 

Percentage of the total crop value 




Hay and Vegetables, fruits 
forage and similar special 

New England 
Middle Atlantic 


41.9 33.5 
31.4 31.8 

East North Central 
West North Central 





The difference in farming conditions is fundamental. 
In the first two divisions agriculture is highly intensive; 
in the other two it is extensive. In the latter, cereals 
account for the bulk of the total crop value; in the former, 
they contribute not only a minor part, but sometimes a neg- 
ligible part (7.6 per cent), while the special "commercial" 
crops (vegetables, fruits, etc.) yield a greater part of the 
crop value than cereals. Extensive agriculture has given 
way to intensive agriculture. Grass cultivation has become 
widespread. Of the 3.8 million acres under hay and forage 
in New England, 3.3 million acres were under cultivated 
grasses. The figures for the Middle Atlantic states are 8.5 
and 7.9 million respectively: By contrast, of the 27.4 mil- 
lion acres under hay and forage in the West North Central 
states (an area of colonisation and extensive agriculture), 
14.5 million, i.e., the greater part, were unimproved grass- 
lands, etc. 

Yields are considerably higher in the "intensive" states: 

Per-acre yield 

in bushels 




1909 1899 



New England 
Middle Atlantic 

45.2 39.4 
32.2 34.0 



East North Central 
West North Central 

38.6 38.3 

27.7 31.4 



The same is true of commercial livestock and dairy farm- 
ing, which are especially highly developed in these divisions: 


Average number 
of dairy cows 
per farm 

Average production of 
milk per cow (gallons) 

1909 1899 

New England 
Middle Atlantic 




East North Central 
West North Central 




The South (3 divisions) 




The West (2 divisions) 




The U.S.A. 3.8 362 424 



This table shows that in the "intensive" states dairy 
farming is on a considerably larger scale than in all the 
others. The areas with the smallest farms (in terms of 
improved acreage) have the largest dairies. This fact is of 
tremendous importance, for, as everyone knows, dairy farm- 
ing develops most rapidly in suburban localities and in 
very highly industrialised countries (or areas). Statistics 
from Denmark, Germany and Switzerland, which are dealt 
with elsewhere,* also show a growing concentration of dairy 

As we have seen, hay and forage in the "intensive" states 
constitute a considerably greater proportion of the total 
crop value than cereals. Accordingly, livestock farming 
there develops largely on the basis of purchased feed. Here 
are the relevant figures for 1909: 

Receipts from Outlays on feed Excess of receipts 
Division sale of feed or outlays 


New England + 4.3 -34.6 -30.3 

Middle Atlantic + 21.6 -54.7 -33.1 

East North Central +195.6 -40.6 +155.0 

West North Central +174.4 -76.2 + 98.2 

The extensive states of the North sell feed. The intensive 
states buy it. It is clear that if feed is purchased large-scale 
operations of a highly capitalistic nature can be conducted 
on a small tract of land. 

Let us make a comparison between the two intensive divi- 
sions of the North, New England and the Middle Atlantic 
states, and the most extensive division of the North, the 
West North Central: 

Improved Value of Receipts from Outlays 

Division land ($000,000 livestock sale of feed on feed 

acres) ($000,000) ($000,000) ($000,000) 

New England + 

+ Middle Atlantic 36.5 447 26 89 

West North Central 164.3 1,552 174 76 

*See present edition, Vol. 5, pp. 205-22, and Vol. 13, pp. 169- 
216.— Ed. 



We find that there is more livestock per acre of improved 
land in the intensive states (447: 36= $12 per acre) 
than in the extensive states (1,552 : 164= $9). More capital 
in the form of livestock is invested in a unit of land area. 
And the total per-acre turnover of the feed trade (purchases + 
+ sales) is also very much greater in the intensive states 
(26 + 89= $115 million for 36 million acres) than in the 
extensive states (174 + 76= $250 million for 164 million 
acres). In the intensive states farming is obviously much 
more commercialised than in the extensive states. 

Expenditure on fertilisers and the value of implements 
and machinery are the most exact statistical expression of 
the degree of intensification of agriculture. Here are the 

F-h ° 














CO ?H 

B p 3S 




CD h 
bo CD 


CD Sh 
b£T5 CD 


of far 


lays p 

lays p 

of im 

land i 

age p 




New England 






Middle Atlantic 






East North Central 






West North Central 






South Atlantic 






East South Central 






West South Central 


















The U.S.A. 






This fully brings out the difference between the exten- 
sive divisions of the North, with an insignificant proportion 
of farms using purchased fertilisers (2-19 per cent), and with 
negligible expenditure on fertilisers per acre of improved 
land ($0.01-$0.09) — and the intensive states, where the 
majority of farms (57-60 per cent) use purchased fertilisers 
and where expenditure on fertilisers is substantial. In New 
England, for example, the per-acre expenditure is $1.30 — 
the maximum figure for all divisions (once again a case of 



farms with the smallest acreage and the largest expenditure 
on fertilisers!), which exceeds the figure for one of the 
divisions of the South (South Atlantic). It should be noted 
that in the South especially large quantities of artificial 
fertilisers are required by cotton, on which, as we have 
seen, the labour of Negro share-croppers is most widely em- 

In the Pacific states, we find a very small percentage 
of farms using fertilisers (6.4 per cent) but the maximum 
average per farm expenditure ($189) — calculated, of course, 
only for the farms which used fertilisers. Here we have 
another example of the growth of large-scale and capitalist 
agriculture with a simultaneous reduction of the farm acre- 
age. In two of the three Pacific states — Washington and 
Oregon — the use of fertilisers is quite insignificant, a mere 
$0.01 per acre. It is only in the third state, California, that 
the figure is relatively high: $0.08 in 1899, and $0.19 in 
1909. In this state, the fruit crop plays a special role, and 
is expanding at an extremely rapid rate along purely capi- 
talist lines; in 1909, it accounted for 33.1 per cent of the total 
crop value, as against 18.3 per cent for cereals, and 27.6 
per cent for hay and forage. The typical fruit-growing farm 
has a smaller-than-average acreage but the use of fer- 
tilisers and hired labour is much greater than average. 
We shall later have occasion to dwell on relationships of 
this type, which are typical of capitalist countries with 
an intensive agriculture and which are most stubbornly 
ignored by statisticians and economists. 

But let us return to the "intensive" states of the North. 
Not only is expenditure on fertilisers — $1.30 per acre — in 
New England the highest and the average farm acreage 
the smallest (38.4 acres); expenditure on fertilisers is in- 
creasing at an especially rapid rate. In the 10 years between 
1899 and 1909, this expenditure increased from $0.53 per 
acre to $1.30, i.e., two and one-half times. Consequently, 
here intensification of agriculture, technical progress and 
improvement of farming techniques are extremely rapid. 
To get a more graphic picture of what this means let us com- 
pare New England, the most intensive division of the North, 
with West North Central, the most extensive division. 
In the latter division, scarcely any artificial fertilisers are 


used at all (2.1 per cent of the farms and $0.01 per acre); 
its farm acreage is larger than that of any other division 
of America (148 acres), and is growing at a faster rate. This 
particular division is usually taken as the model of capi- 
talism in American agriculture — and this Mr. Himmer 
also does. As I shall show in detail later on, this is incorrect. 
It is due to the crudest, most primitive form of extensive 
agriculture being confused with technically progressive 
intensive agriculture. In the West North Central division, 
the average farm is four times as big as in New England 
(148 acres as against 38.4), while average expenditure on 
fertilisers per user is only half as great: $41 as against $82. 

Hence, in actual practice there are instances of a sub- 
stantial reduction in farm acreage being accompanied by a 
substantial increase in expenditure on artificial fertilis- 
ers, so that "small" production — if we continue, as a matter 
of routine, to regard it as being small in terms of acreage — 
turns out to be "large" in terms of the capital invested in 
the land. This is not an exception, but the rule for any 
country where extensive agriculture is giving way to inten- 
sive agriculture. And this applies to all capitalist coun- 
tries, so that when this typical, essential and fundamental 
characteristic of agriculture is ignored, the result is the 
common error of the votaries of small-scale agriculture who 
base their judgement only on farm acreage. 


Let us consider another form of capital investment in 
land which is technically different from the form examined 
above — implements and machinery. All European agricultur- 
al statistics provide irrefutable evidence that the larger 
the farm acreage, the greater is the proportion of farms 
using all types of machines and the greater the number of 
machines used. The superiority of big farms in this highly 
important respect has been established beyond doubt. In 
this field, too, American statisticians have a rather unconven- 
tional approach: neither implements nor farm machinery are 
recorded separately, only their total value being given. 
Such data may, of course, be less exact in each individual 
case, but taken as a whole they allow definite comparisons 



CD +3 


between divisions and between groups of farms — comparisons 
which are impossible with other kinds of data. 

Below are the figures for farm implements and machinery 
by divisions: 

Value of implements and 
machinery (1909) 

Divisions Average per farm Average per acre 

of all farmland 
($) ($) 

' New England 269 2.58 

Middle Atlantic 358 3.88 

East North Central 239 2.28 

West North Central 332 1.59 

The South (three divisions) 72-88-127 0.71-0.92-0.95 
The West (two divisions) 269-350 0.83-1.29 

The U.S.A. 199 1.44 

The former slave-owning South, the area of share-cropping, 
occupies a bottom place in the use of machinery. The value 
of implements and machinery per acre — for its three divi- 
sions — is one-third, one-quarter, one-fifth of the figures 
for the intensive states of the North. The latter lead the 
rest and, in particular, are far ahead of the West North 
Central states, America's most agricultural area and her 
granary, which superficial observers still frequently regard 
as a model area of capitalism and of the use of machinery. 

It should be noted that the American statistical method 
of determining the value of machinery, as well as of land, 
livestock, buildings, etc., per acre of all farmland and 
not per acre of improved land, understates the superiority 
of the "intensive" areas of the North and cannot, in general, 
be considered correct. The difference between the divi- 
sions in regard to the proportion of improved acreage is 
very great: in the West, it is as low as 26.7 per cent for 
the Mountain states, and as high as 75.4 per cent for the 
East North Central states in the North. For the purposes 
of economic statistics, improved land is undoubtedly of much 
greater importance than total acreage. In New England, im- 
proved acreage in farms and its proportion of the total has 
decreased substantially, especially since 1880, probably 


under the impact of competition from the free lands of the 
West (i.e., free from ground-rent, from tribute to the land- 
owning gentry). At the same time, the use of machinery 
in this division is very extensive and the value of machinery 
per acre of improved land is especially high. In 1910, it 
amounted to $7 per acre, while in the Middle Atlantic 
states it was about $5.50 and not more than $2-3 in the 
other divisions. 

Again, the division with the smallest farms, in terms of 
acreage, turns out to have the largest capital investments 
in land in the form of machinery. 

Comparing the Middle Atlantic, one of the "intensive" 
divisions of the North, with the most extensive region of 
the North, the West North Central, we discover that as far 
as improved acreage per farm is concerned, that of the for- 
mer is less than half that of the latter — 62.6 acres as against 
148.0 — while the value of machinery used is greater — $358 
per farm as against $332. The smaller farms are thus larger 
enterprises in terms of machinery used. 

We still have to compare the data on the intensive nature 
of agriculture with the data on the employment of hired 
labour. I already gave these figures in brief above, in 
Chapter 5. We must now examine them in greater detail by 

3 "K cd a .t3 o^so 

« 2 CO _ m a rt CD B 

Divisions §|*fS S g Sg> g ^ 8 



New England 







CD +3 

Middle Atlantic 





+ 62 

East North Central 





+ 71 

. West North Central 






' South Atlantic 





+ 71 

E— i 0 

East South Central 





+ 63 


. West South Central 





+ 37 


O) CO 
43 CD - 







H^: 1 

. Pacific 






The U.S.A. 





+ 58 



This shows, firstly, that capitalism is undoubtedly much 
more developed in the agriculture of the Northern intensive 
states than in that of the extensive states; secondly, that 
in the former, capitalism is developing faster than in the 
latter; thirdly, that the division with the smallest farms, 
New England, has both the highest level of development of 
capitalism in agriculture and the highest rate of its develop- 
ment. There the increase of expenditure on hired labour 
per acre of improved land is 86 per cent; the Pacific states 
come second in this respect. California, where, as I have 
said, "small-scale" capitalist fruit-raising is rapidly develop- 
ing, is also the leader in this respect among the Pacific 

The West North Central division, with the largest farm 
acreages (an average of 148 acres in 1910, counting improved 
land only) and with the most rapid and steady growth 
of farm acreages since 1850, is commonly regarded as the 
"model" capitalist region of American agriculture. We 
have now seen that this contention is profoundly erroneous. 
The extent to which hired labour is used is certainly the 
best and most direct indicator of the development of capital- 
ism. And it tells us that America's "granary", the region of 
the much vaunted "wheat factories", which attract so much 
attention, is less capitalist than the industrial and inten- 
sively farmed region, where the indication of agricultural 
progress is not an increase in improved acreage but an 
increase in capital investments in the land, together with 
a simultaneous reduction of the acreage. 

It is quite possible to imagine that with the use of ma- 
chinery the improvement of the "black soil" or unploughed 
virgin lands in general can proceed very rapidly despite a 
small increase in the employment of hired labour. In the 
West North Central states expenditure on hired labour per 
acre of improved land was $0.56 in 1899, and $0.83 in 1909, 
an increase of only 48 per cent. In New England, where 
the improved area is decreasing and not increasing and 
where the average size of farms is decreasing and not in- 
creasing, expenditure on hired labour was not only very 
much higher both in 1899 ($2.55 per acre) and in 1909 
($4.76 per acre), but had grown during the period at a much 
faster rate (+86 per cent). 


The average farm in New England is one-fourth the 
size of farms in the West North Central states (38.4 as 
against 148 acres), yet its average expenditure on hired 
labour is greater: $277 as against $240. Consequently, the 
reduction in the size of farms means in such cases that a 
greater amount of capital is invested in agriculture, and 
that the capitalist nature of agriculture is intensified; 
it signifies a growth of capitalism and capitalist production. 

While the West North Central states, which comprise 
34.3 per cent of the total improved acreage in the U.S.A., 
are the most typical division of "extensive" capitalist agri- 
culture, the Mountain states offer an example of similar 
extensive farming in conditions of the most rapid colonisa- 
tion. Here less hired labour is employed, in terms of the 
proportion of farms employing labour, but the average 
expenditure on hired labour is very much higher than in the 
West North Central division. But in the former the employ- 
ment of hired labour increased at a slower rate than in 
any other division of America (only +22 per cent). This 
type of evolution was apparently due to the following condi- 
tions. In this division, colonisation and the distribution 
of homesteads are extremely widespread. The area under 
crops increased more than in any other division: by 89 per 
cent from 1900 to 1910. The settlers, the owners of the 
homesteads, naturally employ little hired labour, at any 
rate when starting their farms. On the other hand, hired 
labour must be employed on a very large scale, firstly, by 
some latifundia, which are especially numerous in this divi- 
sion as in the West in general; and secondly, by farms 
raising special and highly capitalist crops. In some states 
of this division, for instance, a very high proportion of 
the total crop value comes from fruits (Arizona — 6 per cent, 
Colorado — 10 per cent), and vegetables (Colorado — 11.9 per 
cent, Nevada — 11.2 per cent), and so forth. 

In summing up, I must say the following: Mr. Himmer's 
assertion that "there are no areas where colonisation is no 
longer continuing, or where large-scale capitalist agricul- 
ture is not decaying and is not being replaced by family-labour 
farms", is a mockery of the truth, and entirely contrary to 
the actual facts. The New England division, where there is 
no colonisation at all, where farms are smallest, where 



farming is most intensive, shows the highest level of capi- 
talism in agriculture and the highest rate of capitalist 
development. This conclusion is most essential and basic for 
an understanding of the process of capitalist development 
in agriculture in general, because the intensification of 
agriculture and the reduction in the average farm acreage that 
goes with it is not some accidental, local, casual phenome- 
non, but one that is common to all civilised countries. Bour- 
geois economists of every stripe make a host of mistakes when 
considering data on the evolution of agriculture (as in Great 
Britain, Denmark, and Germany) because they are not 
familiar enough with this general phenomenon, they have 
not given it enough thought and have not understood or 
analysed it. 


We have examined the major forms of the development 
of capitalism in agriculture, and have seen how extremely 
varied they are. The most important are: the break-up of 
the slave-holding latifundia in the South; the growth of 
large-scale extensive farming operations in the extensive 
area of the North; the most rapid development of capitalism 
in the intensive area of the North, where farms are, on the 
average, the smallest. The facts incontrovertibly prove 
that in some cases the development of capitalism is indi- 
cated by an increase in farm acreage and in others by an 
increase in the number of farms. In view of such a state 
of affairs we learn nothing from the returns on average 
farm acreages summarised for the country as a whole. 

What then is the net result of the various local and 
agricultural peculiarities? An indication is given by the 
data on hired labour. The growing employment of hired 
labour is a general process transcending all these peculiari- 
ties. But in the vast majority of civilised countries agricul- 
tural statistics, paying tribute, intentionally or other- 
wise, to prevailing bourgeois notions and prejudices, either 
fail to furnish any systematic information on hired labour 
at all, or give it only for the most recent period (e.g., Ger- 
man Agricultural Census of 1907), so that it is impossible 


to make a comparison with the past. I shall show in detail 
elsewhere that in the elaboration and tabulation of the 
returns of hired labour American statistics changed 
markedly for the worse between 1900 and 1910. 

The most common and most popular method of presenting 
statistical summaries in America and most other countries 
is to compare big and small farms by acreage. I shall now 
proceed to a consideration of these data. 

In grouping farms by acreage, American statisticians 
take total acreage and not just the improved area, which 
would, of course, be the more correct method, and is the one 
employed by German statisticians. No reason is given why 
seven groups (under 20 acres, 20 to 49, 50 to 99, 100 to 
174, 175 to 499, 500 to 999, 1,000 and over) are used to 
tabulate the returns of the 1910 Census in the United States. 
Statistical routine must apparently have been of paramount 
consideration. I shall call the 100-to-174-acre group — 
medium, because it consists mostly of homesteads (the offi- 
cial size of a homestead is 160 acres), and also because land- 
holdings of this size usually give the farmer the greatest 
degree of "independence" and require the least employ- 
ment of hired labour. The groups above that I shall call 
large or capitalistic because, as a general rule, they do not 
manage without hired labour. Farms with 1,000 acres and 
over I shall regard as latifundia — of which three-fifths is 
unimproved land in the North, nine-tenths, in the South, 
and two-thirds, in the West. Small farms are those with 
less than 100 acres; how much economic independence they 
have is evident from the fact that in three groups, from the 
bottom up, 51 per cent, 43 per cent and 23 per cent of the farms 
respectively, are recorded as having no horses. It goes without 
saying that this characteristic should not be taken in an 
absolute sense and should not he applied to all divisions or to 
localities with specific conditions without a special 

I am unable to give here the returns for all the seven groups 
in the main sections of the United States, for this would 
overload the text with an excessive number of figures. 
I shall, therefore, merely outline the basic distinctions 
between the North, the South and the West, and give the full 
returns only for the United States as a whole. We should 



not lose sight of the fact that three-fifths (60.6 per cent) 
of all the improved land, is in the North; less than one- 
third (31.5 per cent), in the South; and under one-twelfth 
(7.9 per cent), in the West. 

The most striking distinction between the three main 
sections is that the capitalist North has the smallest number 
of latifundia, although their number, their total acreage, 
and their improved acreage are on the increase. In 1910, 0.5 
per cent of the farms in the North were of 1,000 acres and 
over; these big farms had 6.9 per cent of all the land and 4.1 
per cent of the improved land. The South had 0.7 per cent 
of such farms, with 23.9 per cent of the total acreage and 4.8 
per cent of the improved acreage. In the West there were 
3.9 per cent of such farms, owning 48.3 per cent of the total 
acreage, and 32.3 per cent of the improved acreage. This 
is a familiar picture: the slave-holding latifundia of the 
South, and the even vaster latifundia of the West, the latter 
being partly the foundation of the most extensive stock- 
raising, and partly reserve tracts of land occupied by 
"settlers" and resold or (less often) leased to real farmers 
improving the "Far West". 

America demonstrates clearly that it would be impru- 
dent to confuse the latifundia with large-scale capitalist 
agriculture, and that the latifundia are frequently survivals 
of pre-capitalist relationships— slave-owning, feudal or 
patriarchal. A break-up, a parcelling out of the latifundia, 
is taking place both in the South and in the West. In the 
North, the total farm acreage increased by 30.7 million 
acres, of which only 2.3 million is accounted for by lati- 
fundia, while 22 million belongs to big, capitalist farms 
(175 to 999 acres). In the South, the total acreage was 
reduced by 7.5 million. The latifundia decreased by 31.8 
million acres. On the small farms there was an increase 
of 13 million, and on the medium farms, 5 million acres. 
In the West, the total acreage increased by 17 million; 
among the latifundia there was a decrease of 1.2 million; 
on the small farms, an increase of 2 million; medium, 5 mil- 
lion; large, 11 million acres. 

The improved acreage increased in the latifundia of all 
three sections: substantially in the North (+3.7 million 
acres=+47.0 per cent), very slightly in the South ( + 0.3 


million= +5.5 per cent), and more in the West (+2.8 mil- 
lion=+29.6 per cent). But in the North, the maximum 
increase in the improved acreage-occurred on the large 
farms (175 to 999 acres); in the South, on the small and 
medium; in the West, on the large and medium. Hence, it is 
the large farms that are increasing their share of the improved 
land in the North, and the small and in part the medium 
farms, in the South and the West. This picture fully corre- 
sponds to what we already know about the different condi- 
tions in these sections. In the South, there is a growth of 
small-scale commercial farming at the expense of the dis- 
integrating slave-holding latifundia; the process is similar in 
the West, except that the break-up of even larger latifundia, 
which had their origin not in slave-holding but in extensive 
stock ranches and pre-empted tracts, is not as pronounced. 
Moreover, American statisticians say the following about 
the Pacific division: 

"The great development of small fruit and other farms 
on the Pacific coast, due, in part at least, to irrigation 
projects organised in recent years, is reflected in the increase 
in small farms of less than 50 acres in the Pacific division" 
(Vol. V, p. 264). 

The North has neither slave-holding nor "primitive" 
latifundia, there is no disintegration of them, no growth of 
the small farms at the expense of the large. 

The process for the United States as a whole appears as 

Number of 



Increase or 

Size group (acres) 









Under 20 ... . 





+ 1.5 

20 to 49 . . . . 






50 to 99 . . . . 






100 to 174 . . . . 






175 to 499 . . . . 






500 to 999 . . . . 






1,000 and over . . . 










Thus, the number of latifundia in proportion to the total 
number of farms remains unchanged. The most characteris- 
tic change in the relationship between the other groups is 
the reduction in the number of medium-size farms and the 



strengthening of the farms at both ends. The medium-size 
group (100 to 174 acres) and its smaller neighbour have lost 
ground. The smallest and the small farms show the greatest 
gains, and are followed by the large-scale capitalist farms 
(175 to 999 acres). 

Let us take a look at the total acreage. 

Size group 

All farmland 


Increase or 











Under 20 . . . 





+ 0.1 

20 to 49 . . . 

. 41,536 




+ 0.2 

50 to 99 . . . 

. 98,592 





100 to 174 . . . 

. 192,680 




+ 0.4 

175 to 499 .. . 

. 232,955 




+ 2.4 

500 to 999 .. . 

. 67,864 




+ 1.4 

1,000 and over . . 

. 197,784 










Here we find above all a very substantial reduction in 
the share of total acreage held by the latifundia. It should 
be borne in mind that an absolute reduction is taking place 
only in the South and the West, where the proportion of 
wrcimproved land in the latifundia in 1910 was 91.5 per 
cent and 77.1 per cent respectively. There was also an in- 
significant decrease in the share of the top small group in the 
total acreage ( — 0.1 per cent in the 50-to-99-acre size group). 
The greatest increase was shown by the large-scale capitalist 
groups, the 175-to-499-acre and the 500-to-999-acre groups. 
There was a relatively small increase in the share of the 
very small groups in the acreage. The medium group (100 
to 174 acres) was practically stagnant (+0.4 per cent). 

Let us now take a look at the improved acreage. 

Improved land 


Size group 















Under 20 . . . 





+ 0.1 

20 to 49 . . . 

. 33,001 





50 to 99 . . . 

. 67,345 





100 to 174 .. . 

. 118,391 





175 to 499 .. . 

. 135,530 




+ 1.1 

500 to 999 .. . 

. 29,474 




+ 1.4 

1,000 and over . . 

. 24,317 











The size of the farming enterprise is indicated with some 
degree of approximation and allowing for certain excep- 
tions to which I have referred and shall refer again below — 
only by the improved and not the total acreage. Once again 
we find that while the share of the total acreage held by the 
latifundia substantially decreased, their share of the improved 
acreage increased. In general, all the capitalistic groups 
gained ground, and most of all the 500-to-999-acre group. 
The largest reduction was in the medium-size group ( — 1.7 
per cent), followed by all the small groups, with the excep- 
tion of the smallest, the group under 20 acres, which showed 
a negligible increase (+0.1 per cent). 

Let us note in advance that the smallest-size group 
(under 20 acres) includes farms of less than 3 acres, which are 
not included in American statistics unless they raise at least 
$250 worth of products a year. For that reason these tiny 
farms (of less than 3 acres) have a greater volume of produc- 
tion and a more highly developed capitalist character than 
the next group up the scale. To illustrate this point here are 
the returns for 1900 — unfortunately the corresponding 
returns for 1910 are not available: 

Average per farm: 

Size groups (1900) 


Value of 



on hired 

Under 3 . . . . 




3 to 10 . . . . 




10 to 20 . . . . 




20 to 50 . . . . 




Value of 

imple- Value of 

ments and livestock 
machinery ($) 



Even the 3-to-10-acre farms, to say nothing of farms 
with less than 3 acres, turn out in some respects to be 
"larger" (outlays on hired labour, value of implements and 
machinery) than the 10-to-20-acre farms.* Consequently, 

* For 1900 we have returns by size groups for the number of high 
income farms, i.e., farms with a product valued over $2,500. Here 
are these figures: among farms of less than 3 acres, the proportion of 
high-income farms was 5.2 per cent; 3 to 10 acres — 0.6 per cent; 10 
to 20 acres — 0.4 per cent; 20 to 50 acres — 0.3 per cent; 50 to 100 — 
0.6 per cent; 100 to 175—1.4 per cent; 175 to 260—5.2 per cent; 
260 to 500—12.7 per cent; 500 to 1,000—24.3 per cent; 1,000 and 



there is good reason to attribute the increase in the share 
of the total improved land held by farms under 20 acres to 
an increase in the improved land of the pronounced capital- 
ist-type farms of the smallest-size group. 

On the whole, the returns for 1900 and 1910 on the dis- 
tribution of improved land in the U.S.A. between small 
and large farms warrant this absolutely definite and indu- 
bitable conclusion: the large farms are becoming stronger, 
the medium and the small farms, weaker. Hence, insofar as 
the capitalist or non-capitalist character of agriculture can 
be deduced from the data relating to farms grouped by acre- 
age, the United States in the last decade shows, as a general 
rule, a growth of the large-scale, capitalist farms and 
the obliteration of small farms. 

The statistics on the increase in the number of farms and 
the improved acreage in each group will confirm this conclu- 

Increase for 1900-10 
(per cent) 

Size group 

Number of 





Under 20 


+ 24.1 

20 to 49 

+ 12.5 

+ 10.9 

50 to 99 

+ 5.3 

+ 5.7 

100 to 174 

+ 6.6 

+ 8.8 

175 to 499 

+ 12.7 

+ 19.4 

500 to 999 


+ 38.5 

1,000 and over 

+ 6.3 


Overall increase . . 

. . +10.9 

+ 15.4 

The largest percentage increase in the improved acre- 
age took place in the two topmost groups. The least increase 
occurred in the medium-size group and the next smaller 
group (50 to 99 acres). In the two smallest groups the percent- 
age increase in the improved acreage was less than the per- 
centage increase in the number of farms. 

over — 39.5 per cent. We find the proportion of high-income farms in 
all the under-20-acre groups to be greater than in the 20-to-50-acre 



American statistics, unlike European statistics, deter- 
mine, for each farm and each group of farms, the value of 
the various elements making up the farming enterprise — the 
land, buildings, implements, livestock and the enterprise 
as a whole. These data are probably not quite as accurate 
as the data relating to acreage, but generally speaking they 
are equally reliable, and in addition give some idea of 
the general state of capitalism in agriculture. 

In order to supplement the above analysis I shall now 
take the data relating to the total value of farms with all 
their agricultural property, and also the data on the value 
of implements and machinery. I single out implements and 
machinery from among the various elements of the enter- 
prise because they are a direct indication of the agricultural 
operations being conducted, and of how they are being con- 
ducted i.e., whether more or less intensively, and whether 
they employ technical improvements to a greater or lesser 
extent. Here are the figures for the U.S.A.: 

Percentage distribution of value 

Size group All property Increase Implements Increase 

(acres) on farms , or a u nd , or 

decrease machinery decrease 





Under 20 . . 

. 3.8 


— 0.1 



— 0.1 

20 to 49 . . 



— 0.6 



— 0.6 

50 to 99 . . 

. 16.7 


— 2.1 



— 1.6 

100 to 174 . . 

. 28.0 


— 0.9 



— 0.4 

175 to 499 . . 

. 30.5 


+ 2.8 



+ 3.1 

500 to 999 . . 

. 5.9 


+ 1.2 



+ 1.2 

1,000 and over . 



— 0.4 



— 1.5 






The absolute figures show that from 1900 to 1910 the 
value of all farm property more than doubled; it increased 
from $20,440 million to $40,991 million, i.e., 100.5 per 
cent. The rise in the prices of farm products and rents 
put millions and thousands of millions of dollars into the 
pockets of the landowners at the expense of the working class. 
What were the comparative gains of the small and the big 
farms? The above figures supply the answer. They show that 
the latifundia declined (their total acreage fell from 23.6 



per cent to 19.0 per cent, or 4.6 per cent), and that the 
small and medium-size farms are being displaced by the 
large, capitalist farms (175 to 999 acres). Adding up the 
figures for the small and medium farms we find that their 
share in the total property decreased from 56.4 to 52.7 per 
cent. Adding up the figures for the large farms and the 
latifundia we find that their share increased from 43.7 per 
cent to 47.3 per cent. There were absolutely identical 
changes in the distribution of the total value of implements 
and machinery between the small and large farms. 

We also observe the phenomenon noted above in the figures 
relating to the latifundia. Their decline is limited to two 
sections: the South and the West. It is a decline, on the one 
hand, of the slave-holding latifundia, and on the other, 
of the primitive-squatter and the primitive-extensive lati- 
fundia. We find a growth of latifundia in the populated 
industrial North: this applies to the number of farms of this 
type, their total acreage, their improved acreage, their share 
in the total value of all farm property (2.5 per cent in 1900; 
2.8 per cent in 1910), and their share in the total value of 
all implements and machinery. 

There is moreover a growth of the role of the latifundia 
not only throughout the North in general but also in both 
the intensive divisions of the North in particular, where 
there is absolutely no colonisation, namely New England and 
the Middle Atlantic states. These divisions must be analysed 
in greater detail because, for one thing, they have misled 
Mr. Himmer and many others by the particularly small 
average size of their farms and a reduction of that size, and, 
for another, these most intensive divisions are most typical 
of the older, long settled, civilised countries of Europe. 

Between 1900 and 1910, the number of farms, the total 
acreage and the improved acreage decreased in both these 
divisions. In New England, there was an increase only in 
the number of the smallest farms, those under 20 acres, by 
22.4 per cent (the improved land on them increased by 15.5 
per cent), and in the number of latifundia — by 16.3 per cent, 
and their improved acreage by 26.8 per cent. In the Middle 
Atlantic states there was an increase in the smallest farms 
(+7.7 per cent in the number, and +2.5 per cent in the 
improved acreage) and also in the number of the 175-to-499 


acre farms (+1.0 per cent) and the improved land on the 
500-to-999-acre farms (+3.8 per cent). In both divisions, 
there was an increase in the share of the smallest farms 
and the share of the latifundia in the total value of all 
farm property and also of implements and machinery. Here 
are some figures which give a clearer and fuller picture of 
each of these divisions: 

Percentage increase 

Irom lyuU 

to 1910 





Size groups 

Value of 

Value of 

Value of 

Value of 


all farm 


all farm 








Under 20 . . 

. . 60.9 




20 to 49 . . 

. . 31.4 




50 to 99 . . 

. . 27.5 




100 to 174 . . 

. . 30.3 




175 to 499 . . 

. . 33.0 




500 to 999 . . 

. . 53.7 




1,000 and over . 

. . 102.7 









This makes 

it clear that 

in both divisions it 

was the 

latifundia that gained most ground, showed the greatest 
economic gains, and made the greatest technical advance. 
Here the largest capitalist enterprises are displacing the 
others, the smaller farms. A minimum increase in the value 
of all property and also of implements and machinery is 
evident in the medium-size group and in the small group, 
but not in the smallest. Hence, it is the medium and small 
farms that mostly lag behind. 

As for the smallest farms (under 20 acres), their advance 
in both divisions is above the average, and second only 
to the latifundia. We already know the reason: 31 to 33 per 
cent of the crop value in both these intensive divisions 
comes from the highly capitalist crops (vegetables, and also 
fruits, flowers, etc.) which yield extremely great values on 
very small acreages. In these divisions, cereal crops account 
for only 8 to 30 per cent of the crop value; and hay and 
forage, 31 to 42 per cent; there is a growth of dairy farming 
which is characterised by smaZZer-than-average acreages, 
but a greaZer-than-average value of produce and capital out- 
lays on hired labour. 



In the most intensive divisions, there is a decrease in 
the average improved acreage in farms because the aver- 
age is obtained by combining the acreage of the latifundia 
and that of the smallest farms, the number of which is in- 
creasing more rapidly than that of the medium-size farms. 
The smallest farms are increasing in number faster than the 
latifundia. But there is a dual growth of capitalism: it 
increases the size of farms worked by old technical methods; 
and creates new enterprises raising special commercial crops 
on very small and tiny acreages, with an extremely great 
volume of production and employment of hired labour. 

The net result is the greatest gains by the latifundia and the 
giant farms, the obliteration of the medium and small farms, 
and the growth of the smallest highly capitalist enterprises. 

We shall presently see how the net result of such con- 
tradictory — seemingly contradictory — phenomena of capi- 
talism in agriculture can be expressed in statistical terms. 


The grouping of farms by acreage, total or improved, is 
the only kind of grouping which was used in the American 
Census reports for 1910, and which is used in the great 
majority of European countries. Generally speaking, it is 
indisputable that apart from fiscal, bureaucratic and admin- 
istrative reasons there are scientific considerations argu- 
ing the need and correctness of this kind of grouping. Still 
it is obviously inadequate for it completely fails to take 
account of the intensification of agriculture, the increasing 
expenditure of capital per unit of area in the form of live- 
stock, machinery, improved seeds, better methods of crop 
cultivation, etc. Meanwhile, with the exception of a very 
few areas and countries with a primitive or purely extensive 
agriculture, it is this very process that is most typical for 
capitalist countries everywhere. For this reason the grouping 
of farms by acreage in the vast majority of cases gives an 
oversimplified and entirely inadequate picture of agricultural 
development in general, and of capitalist development in 
agriculture in particular. 


When the verbose economists and statisticians who 
express the most popular bourgeois views hold forth on the 
dissimilarity of conditions in agriculture and industry, the 
specific nature of the former, and so on and so forth, one 
is always tempted to say: Gentlemen! You yourselves are 
most to blame for maintaining and spreading oversimplified 
and crude notions of evolution in agriculture! Remember 
Marx's Capital. In it you will find references to the extreme 
variety of forms of land ownership, such as feudal, clan, 
communal (and primitive-squatter), state, etc., which capital- 
ism encounters when it makes its appearance on the histor- 
ical scene. Capital subordinates to itself all these varied 
forms of land ownership and remoulds them after its own 
fashion, and if one is to understand, evaluate and express 
this process in statistical terms, one must learn to modify 
the formulation of the question and the methods of inves- 
tigation in accordance with the changing form of the process. 
Capitalism subordinates to itself all these forms of land 
ownership: communal-allotment holdings in Russia; squatter 
tracts or holdings regulated by free distribution in a demo- 
cratic or a feudal state, as in Siberia or the American Far 
West; the slave-holding estates in the American South, 
and the semi-feudal landholdings of the "purely Russian" 
gubernias. In all these cases, the development and victory 
of capitalism is similar, though not identical in form. In 
order to study and understand the precise nature of the 
process one must go beyond the trite petty-bourgeois phrases 
about "family farming" or the routine methods of comparing 
acreage alone. 

You will also find that Marx analyses the origin of the 
capitalist type of ground-rent and its relationship to its 
forerunners in history, such as rent in kind, labour service 
(corvee and its survivals); money-rent (quit-rent, etc.). 
But who among the bourgeois or petty-bourgeois, Narod- 
nik, economists or statisticians has given any serious thought 
to applying these theoretical guiding principles of Marx's 
to an investigation of the rise of capitalism from the slave- 
holding economy of the American South, or from the corvee 
economy in central Russia? 

Finally, you will find throughout Marx's analysis of 
ground-rent systematic references to the varied conditions of 



agriculture engendered not only by the differences in quality 
and location of the land, but also by the differences in the 
amount of capital invested in it. Now what does application of 
capital to land imply? It implies technical changes in agricul- 
ture, its intensification, the transition to higher systems of 
field cropping, increased use of artificial fertilisers, the wider 
use and improvement of implements and machinery, greater 
employment of hired labour, etc. A record of the acreage 
alone will not express all these complex and varied processes, 
which all combine to make up the general process of the 
development of capitalism in agriculture. 

Russian Zemstvo statisticians, 4 especially those of the 
"good old" pre-revolutionary days, won universal respect 
because they avoided the routine approach and took a certain 
scientific interest in their business, going beyond its purely 
fiscal, bureaucratic and administrative aspects. They were 
probably the first statisticians to notice the inadequacy of 
grouping farms by acreage alone, and, accordingly, intro- 
duced other methods of classification, such as by sown area, 
number of draught animals, employment of hired labour, 
etc. Unfortunately, the sporadic and scattered operations of 
our Zemstvo statistics — in the past ever what you might 
call an oasis in the desert of feudal obscurity, bureaucratic 
routine, and every kind of stupid red-tapism — have not yielded 
any long-term results either for Russian or European eco- 

It should be noted that the grouping of the returns canvass- 
ed in modern agricultural censuses is not such a purely 
technical or highly specialised question as may appear at 
first sight. The returns contain an immense wealth of 
complete information on each enterprise as a unit, but due 
to the clumsy, thoughtless, routine approach to tabulation 
and grouping, this extremely valuable material is all lost, 
wasted, and discoloured, which often makes it practically 
useless for any study of the laws of agricultural evolution. 
The returns make it possible to say quite categorically 
whether a farm is a capitalist enterprise, and to what 
extent; whether its farming operations are intensive, and to 
what degree, etc.; but when data relating to millions of 
farms are tabulated the most essential distinctions, features 
and characteristics — which ought to be most effectively 



brought out, determined and taken into account — tend to dis- 
appear, so that all the economist gets, instead of a sensible 
statistical review, is routine, meaningless columns of fig- 
ures, a kind of statistical "game of digits". 

The American Census of 1910 with which we are now con- 
cerned is an excellent example of how first-class material 
of surpassing wealth and completeness has been devalued 
and spoiled by the routine approach and scientific ignorance 
of the statisticians. The processing is very much worse than 
in the 1900 Census, and even the traditional grouping of 
farms by acreage has not been fully carried out, so that we 
have no possibility of making a comparison between the 
enterprises in the various groups, say, as regards their 
employment of hired labour, the difference in their systems 
of field cropping, the use of fertilisers, etc. 

I am compelled, therefore, to turn to the 1900 Census. 
It gave, to my knowledge, the world's only example of the 
use of three different methods, instead of one, to group or 
"classify" (as the Americans say) the great abundance 
of material on more than five and a half million farms, 
collected in a single country, at a single time, and under 
a single programme. 

It is true that here, too, no classification gives all the 
essential characteristics of the type and size of farm. Still 
the resultant picture of capitalist agriculture and the capi- 
talist evolution of agriculture is, as I hope to show, very 
much fuller, and reflects the real situation much more cor- 
rectly than can ever be the case when the conventional, 
one-sided and inadequate single method of classification is 
used. Given the opportunity for a fuller study of facts and 
trends, which may be safely considered common to all the 
capitalist countries of the world, the most serious errors and 
dogmas of bourgeois and petty-bourgeois, Narodnik political 
economy are shown up and exposed. 

Since the data in question are so important I shall have 
to examine them in greater detail and employ statistical 
tables more frequently than hitherto. Realising fully that 
statistical tables burden the text and make reading more 
difficult, I have tried to keep them down to a minimum, 
and hope the reader will be lenient with me if I now have 
to increase that minimum, for on the analysis of the points 



examined here depends not only the general conclusion on 
the principal question — the trend, type, character and law 
of evolution of modern agriculture — but also the general 
assessment of the data furnished by modern agricultural sta- 
tistics which are so often cited and just as often distorted. 

The first grouping — "by acreage" — gives the following 
picture of American agriculture in 1900: 

Average per farm 

Size group 

age of 




on hired 

Value or 

Value of 
ments and 











3 to 








10 to 








20 to 








50 to 








100 to 








175 to 








260 to 








500 to 








1,000 and over 







verage for all 

farms . . 




It is safe to say that the statistics of any capitalist country 
— the inessential particulars apart — would present an 
absolutely similar picture. This is confirmed by the latest 
censuses in Germany, Austria, Hungary, Switzerland and 
Denmark. As total farm acreage increases from group to 
group, there is also an increase in the average improved 
acreage, the average value of the produce, the value of imple- 
ments and machinery, the value of livestock (I have omitted 
these figures) and the expenditure on hired labour (earlier 
on I pointed out the significance of the slight exception of 
the under-3-acre farms and in part of the 3-to-10-acre farms). 

It would seem that it could not be otherwise. The increase 
in expenditure on hired labour appears to confirm beyond 
any doubt that the division of farms into large and small on 

Less than 0.1 per cent. 
Excluding produce used as feed. 


the strength of acreage is entirely in accord with their divi- 
sion into capitalist and non-capitalist enterprises. Nine- 
tenths of the usual arguments about "small-scale" agriculture 
are based on identification in this way and on such data. 

Let us now consider the average per acre of (all) land, 
instead of per farm: 

Per acre of all land in dollars 

Size group 

on hired 

on ferti- 

Value of 

Value of 





and machin- 

Under 3 





3 to 10 





10 to 20 





20 to 50 





50 to 100 





100 to 175 





175 to 260 





260 to 500 





500 to 1000 





1,000 and over 





Allowing for some absolutely negligible exceptions we 
find a uniform decline in the characteristics of intensive 
farming from the lower groups to the higher. 

The conclusion appears to be incontrovertible that "small- 
scale" production in agriculture is more intensive than large- 
scale production, that the smaller the "scale" of production, 
the greater the intensity and productivity of agriculture, 
and that, "consequently", capitalist production in agricul- 
ture is maintained only by the extensive, primitive nature 
of the economy, etc. 

In fact, the same conclusions are being drawn all the 
time, on every hand, in all bourgeois and petty-bourgeois 
(opportunist-"Marxist" and Narodnik) writings, for when 
farms are grouped by acreage (which is not only the most 
common but practically the only kind of grouping done) 
the picture will be similar for any capitalist country, that 
is, it will show the same decline in the characteristics of 
intensive agriculture from the lower groups to the higher. 
There is, for instance, the celebrated work of the celebrated 
Eduard David — Socialism and Agriculture — a collection of 
bourgeois prejudices and bourgeois lies under the cover 



of quasi-socialist catchwords. It uses just that kind of data to 
prove the "superiority", "viability", etc., of "small-scale" 

One factor has especially facilitated such conclusions. 
It is that data similar to the above are ordinarily available 
on the quantity of livestock; but practically nowhere 
are data collected on hired labour — especially in such a sum- 
marised form as expenditure on hired labour. But it is pre- 
cisely the data on hired labour that reveal the incorrectness of 
all such conclusions. In effect, if the increase, say, in the 
value of livestock (or the total number of animals, which is 
the same thing) per unit of area down the scale is taken 
as evidence of the "superiority" of "small-scale" agriculture, 
it should be borne in mind that as we go down the scale this 
"superiority" turns out to be connected with increasing expen- 
diture on hired labour! But such an increase in the expen- 
diture on hired labour — notice that we have all along been 
dealing with values per unit of area, per acre, per hectare, 
per dessiatine — signifies a growth of the capitalist nature 
of the enterprise! But the capitalist nature of the enterprise 
clashes with the popular notion of "small-scale" production 
because small-scale production implies enterprise which is 
not based on hired labour. 

This seems to create a knot of contradictions. The overall 
acreage returns for the size groups indicate that the "small" 
farms are non-capitalist, whereas the big farms are. Yet the 
very same data show that the "smaller" the enterprise, the 
more intensive it is, and the larger its expenditure on hired 
labour per unit of land area! 

In order to explain this let us consider another type 
of grouping. 


As I have already said, American statisticians in this case 
take the value of the products raised on the farm, less those 
used as feed. Taken alone, these data, which appear to be 
available only in American statistics, are, of course, less 
exact than the figures for acreage or livestock, and the like. 
But considered as a whole, in relation to several million 


farms, and especially for the purpose of determining the 
relative standing of the various groups of farms in the 
country, these data undoubtedly cannot be regarded as 
less suitable than the rest. At any rate, these data are a 
much more direct indication than any others of the scale of 
production, especially commercial operations, i.e., the 
value of the produce raised for the market. It should be borne 
in mind that any discussion of agricultural evolution and 
its laws centres on a consideration of small-scale and 
large-scale production. 

What is more, in such cases the point is always the evo- 
lution of agriculture under capitalism, in connection with 
capitalism, under its impact, or the like. To evaluate this 
impact the greatest efforts must above all be made to draw 
a line of distinction between "natural" and commercial 
economy in agriculture. It is well known that "natural" econo- 
my, i.e., production for consumption on the home farm 
and not for the market, has a relatively important part to 
play in agriculture, and is giving way to commercial farm- 
ing at an extremely slow pace. If the accepted principles 
of political economy are not to be applied mechanically 
but intelligently, the law of the displacement of small-scale 
by large-scale production, for instance, can be applied only 
to commercial agriculture. It is hardly likely that anyone 
will object to this proposition from the theoretical stand- 
point. However, it is the rare economist or statistician who 
will make a special effort to bring out, trace and as far as 
possible take into account, the characteristics indicative 
of the transformation of natural into commercial agricul- 
ture. A great step towards meeting this most important the- 
oretical requirement is made by the classification of farms 
according to the money value of produce not used for feed. 

Let us note that, when considering the undeniable fact 
that small-scale production is being displaced by large- 
scale production in industry, enterprises are always grouped 
according to the value of their product or the number of 
wage-workers employed. In industry, due to its technical 
peculiarities, the matter is much simpler. In agriculture, 
because relationships are so much more complicated and 
intertwined, it is a great deal harder to determine the scale 
of operations, the value of the product and the extent to 



which hired labour is employed. For the last-named item, 
it is necessary to take account of the total annual employ- 
ment of hired labour and not merely the amount on hand 
when a census is taken, for agricultural operations are of an 
especially "seasonal" nature; in addition, it is necessary to 
list not only the permanent hired labourers but also the 
day-labourers who play a most important part in farming. 
To say that this is difficult is not to say that it is impossible. 
Rational methods of investigation adapted to the technical 
peculiarities of agriculture, including classification by 
output, the money value of the product, and the frequency 
and amount of hired labour employed, will have to be used 
on a much wider scale, in spite of the thick maze of bourgeois 
and petty-bourgeois prejudices and the efforts to embellish 
bourgeois realities. And it may be safely said that any step 
forward in the use of rational methods of investigation will 
serve to confirm the truth that in capitalist society small- 
scale production is being displaced by large-scale production 
both in industry and agriculture. 

Let us take the 1900 returns for the groups of farms in 
America classified according to the value of their product: 

Average per 


Farms classified by 

Number Acreage 




value of product 

of farms 



of total) 








1 and under 50 






50 and under 100 






100 and under 250 






250 and under 500 






500 and under 1,000 






1000 and under 2,500 






Over 2,500 






Average for all farms 



The farms reporting no income, i.e., with a $0 value of 
product, probably consist primarily of newly occupied 
homesteads on which their owners had not yet had time to 
erect buildings, acquire livestock or sow and raise a crop. 
In a country like America, where colonisation is still in 
progress on such a vast scale, special importance attaches 


to the question of how long a farmer has been in possession 
of his farm. 

Leaving aside the zero-income farms, we get a picture 
quite similar to the one obtained above by grouping the same 
data according to total farm acreage. As the value of the 
product raised on a farm increases, there is also an increase 
in the average improved acreage, the average expenditure on 
hired labour, and the average value of implements and ma- 
chinery. By and large, the more profitable farms — in terms 
of gross income, i.e., the value of their total product — turn 
out to have the larger acreage. It would appear that the new 
method of grouping has not yielded anything new-at all. 

But now let us take the averages (the value of livestock 
and implements, expenditure on hired labour and fertilisers) 
per acre instead of per farm: 

Farms classified by 


value of product 

on hired 





1 and under 



50 and under 



100 and under 



250 and under 



500 and under 1,000 


1000 and under 2,500 


Over 2,500 


Per acre of all land ($) 


Value of 

Value of 

on ferti- 





























The exceptions in some respects are the zero-income farms, 
which in general are in a very special position, and the 
farms with the highest incomes, which turn out to be less 
intensive than the next group, judging by three out of 
the four characteristics we have chosen. But on the whole 
we find a uniform increase in the intensity of agriculture 
with the increase in the value of the farm product. 

This result is the very opposite of the one obtained when 
farms were grouped by acreage. 

The same figures yield diametrically different conclu- 
sions, depending on the method of grouping. 

As the enterprise grows in size the intensity of agriculture 
declines — if the criterion is acreage, and increases — if the 
criterion is the value of the product. 



Which of these two conclusions is the correct one? 

It is clear that if the land is not being improved, acreage 
gives no idea at all of the scale of agricultural operations 
(we must not forget that in America farms are grouped not 
only according to the improved acreage, but also by the 
total acreage and that in that country the proportion of the 
improved acreage ranges from 19 to 91 per cent in the farm 
groups, and from 27 to 75 per cent, in the geographical divi- 
sions); it gives no correct idea at all if besides this there are 
so many substantial differences between farms in the meth- 
ods of cultivation, the intensity of agriculture, the methods 
of field cropping, quantities of fertilisers, the use of ma- 
chinery, the character of livestock farming, etc. 

This is known to apply to all capitalist countries and 
even to all those whose agriculture is affected by capi- 

We see here one of the most profound and general reasons 
why mistaken notions about the "superiority" of small-scale 
agriculture are so tenacious, and why bourgeois and petty- 
bourgeois prejudices of this type prove to be compatible 
with the great progress made in the last few decades by 
social statistics in general, and agricultural statistics 
in particular. To be sure, the tenacity of these mistakes 
and prejudices is also a matter of the interests of the bour- 
geoisie, who seek to cover up the depth of class contradictions 
in contemporary bourgeois society; and everyone knows 
that when it comes to interests, the most incontrovertible 
truths are liable to be questioned. 

But we are here concerned only with an examination of 
the theoretical sources of the erroneous notion of the "su- 
periority" of small-scale agriculture. There is no doubt at all 
that of all these sources the most important one is the 
uncritical, routine attitude to the hackneyed methods of 
comparing enterprises only by their total acreage or the 
improved acreage. 

The U.S.A. is an exception among capitalist countries 
in that it alone has a great deal of unoccupied, unsettled 
land, which is given away free. Agriculture still can and 
indeed does develop here through the occupation of vacant 
land, through the cultivation of virgin lands never before 
put to the plough — here it does develop in the form of the 


most primitive and extensive livestock and crop raising. 
There is nothing of the kind in the old, civilised countries 
of capitalist Europe. In these countries, agriculture develops 
mainly through intensive methods, not by increases in the 
quantity of land under cultivation, but by improvement in 
the quality of cultivation, by increases in the amount of 
capital invested in the original acreage. Those who compare 
farms by acreage alone lose sight of this principal trend in 
capitalist agriculture, a trend which is gradually becoming 
the principal one in the United States as well. 

The principal trend in capitalist agriculture is the con- 
version of small-scale enterprise, which remains small in 
terms of acreage, into large-scale enterprise in terms of 
output, in the development of livestock raising, the quantity 
of fertilisers, the scale on which machinery is used, and the 

That is why the conclusion drawn from the comparison 
of the various groups of enterprises by acreage — that the 
intensity of agriculture declines with the greater size of 
enterprise — is entirely incorrect. The only correct conclusion, 
on the contrary, is to be drawn from the comparison of the 
various farms by the value of their product — the bigger the 
enterprise, the greater is the intensity of agriculture. 

For acreage is only circumstantial evidence of the scale of 
agricultural operations, and the broader and more rapid the 
intensification of agriculture, the less authentic is this "evi- 
dence". The value of the product of an enterprise is not circum- 
stantial but direct evidence of the scale of its operations. 
Moreover, it is true in every case. By small-scale agricul- 
ture is always meant the kind that is not based on hired 
labour. But the transition to the exploitation of hired labour 
does not depend only on the extension of the acreage of an 
enterprise on its old technical basis — this occurs only in 
primitive, extensive enterprises — but also on an improvement 
of equipment and techniques and their modernisation, invest- 
ment in the same acreage of additional capital in the form 
of, say, new machinery or artificial fertilisers, or of increased 
and improved livestock, etc. 

The classification of farms by the value of their product 
brings together enterprises which really have the same scale 
of production, regardless of acreage. Accordingly, a highly 



intensive enterprise on a small tract of land falls into the 
same group as a relatively extensive enterprise on a large 
tract; both are actually large-scale in terms of production 
and the employment of hired labour. 

On the contrary, the classification by acreage throws 
together large and small enterprises, because they happen to 
have a similar acreage; it puts into the same group enterprises 
with an entirely different scale of operations, those in 
which family labour predominates, and those in which 
hired labour predominates. The result is a picture of blunted 
class contradictions within capitalism, a picture which is 
basically incorrect and entirely misleading as to the actual 
state of affairs, but one the bourgeoisie is very fond of. 
This leads to an equally fallacious embellishment of the 
condition of the small farmers, which the bourgeoisie is just 
as fond of. The net result is a vindication of capitalism. 

In effect, the fundamental and principal trend of capitalism 
is the displacement of small-scale by large-scale production, 
both in industry and in agriculture. But this displacement 
should not be interpreted merely as immediate expropria- 
tion. Displacement also implies the ruin of the small farmers 
and a worsening of conditions on their farms, a process that 
may go on for years and decades. This deterioration assumes 
a variety of forms, such as the small farmer's overwork or 
malnutrition, his heavy debts, worse feed and poorer care 
of livestock in general, poorer husbandry — cultivation, fer- 
tilisation and the like — as well as technical stagnation on 
the farm, etc. If the researcher is to be absolved from the 
charge of wittingly or otherwise playing up to the bourgeoi- 
sie by giving a false impression of the condition of the small 
farmer, who is being ruined and oppressed, his task is, first 
and foremost, to give a precise definition of the symptoms of 
this ruination, which are not at all simple or uniform; his 
next task is to determine these symptoms, to analyse and, as 
far as possible, to define the extent to which they have 
spread and how they change with time. But present-day econ- 
omists and statisticians hardly pay any attention to this 
vital aspect of the matter. 

Just imagine that to a group of 90 small farmers who have 
no capital to improve their farms, who lag behind the times 
and are gradually being ruined the statistician adds 10 farm- 



ers who have all the capital they need and on equally small 
tracts of land start large-scale operations based on hired 
labour. The net result would be an embellished picture of 
the condition of all the hundred small farmers. 

The U.S. Census of 1910 produced just that kind of 
embellished picture — and one that, objectively, favoured the 
bourgeoisie — primarily because it discarded the method 
used in 1900 of comparing the acreage grouping and the 
value-of-product grouping. We learn, for instance, only 
that expenditure on fertilisers increased immensely, namely, 
by 115 per cent, i.e., more than double the previous figure, 
while the expenditure on hired labour went up by only 82 
per cent, and the total crop value by 83 per cent. This is 
tremendous progress. It is the progress of national agricul- 
ture as a whole. And, I dare say, some economist is likely 
to draw — if indeed has not yet drawn — the conclusion that 
this is the progress of small-scale family farming, for, gen- 
erally speaking, the returns for the size groups by acreage 
indicate that "small-scale" agriculture has a much higher 
per-acre expenditure on fertilisers. 

But we now know that such a conclusion would be falla- 
cious, because the one thing the grouping of farms by acreage 
does is to lump together farmers on the way to ruin, or at 
any rate the indigent small farmers who cannot afford to 
buy fertilisers, and capitalists (even if they are small-time 
capitalists) who, on small tracts of land, start large-scale 
farming operations with the use of up-to-date, intensive 
methods and the employment of hired labour. 

If small-scale agriculture is being generally displaced by 
large-scale agriculture, as the figures for the total value of 
farm property in 1900 and 1910 show; if, as we shall presently 
see, the raising of highly capitalist crops on small tracts 
developed at an especially fast rate in this period; if, accord- 
ing to the general statistics on small and large enterprises 
grouped by the value of their product, expenditures for fer- 
tilisers increased proportionately with the scale of the enter- 
prise — then the conclusion inevitably follows that the "prog- 
ress" in the use of fertilisers from 1900 to 1910 went to 
increase the preponderance of capitalist agriculture over small 
agriculture, which was displaced and suppressed to an even 
greater extent. 




What I have said above about the intensive, large-scale 
capitalist enterprises on small tracts raises this question: 
is there any reason to believe that the intensification of 
agriculture leads to a reduction of farm acreage? In other 
words, are there any conditions relating to modern farming 
techniques as such that require smaller farm acreage for 
greater intensity of farming? 

No answer is provided either by general theoretical reason- 
ing or by examples. In each case it is a matter of the con- 
crete technical level of agriculture under a given set of con- 
ditions, and the actual amount of capital required by a given 
system of farming. In theory, any amount of capital can be 
invested in any acreage in any possible way, but it is obvious 
that "this depends" on the existing economic, technical, and 
cultural conditions, etc., and the whole point is the kind of 
conditions prevalent in a given country at a given time. 
Examples serve no purpose at all, because in the sphere of 
such complex, varied, interwoven and contradictory trends 
in the economics of modern agriculture, any number of ex- 
amples will be found to support opposite views. What this 
calls for above all — and more so than in any other sphere — 
is a picture of the process as a whole, with all the trends taken 
into account and summed up in the form of a resultant. 

The third method of grouping used by American statisti- 
cians in 1900 helps to find an answer to this question. It is 
classification according to the principal source of income. 
Accordingly, farms fall into one of the following groups: 

(I) hay and grain as the principal source of income; (2) 
miscellaneous; (3) livestock; (4) cotton; (5) vegetable; 
(6) fruit; (7) dairy produce; (8) tobacco; (9) rice; (10) sugar; 

(II) flowers and plants; (12) nursery products; (13) taro; and 
(14) coffee. The last seven groups (8-14) together make up 
only 2.2 per cent of the total number of farms, i.e., such an 
insignificant share, that I shall not consider them separately. 
These groups (8-14) are similar to the preceding three groups 
(5-7) in economic characteristics and significance and consti- 
tute a single type. 

Here are the data characterising the various types of 


a an 

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CS — _, 

OS rv 

> s 

O o +j 

o * 

h 8 


> o 

M rt O 

Pi O CD g 

CD &-t 

o , c3 as 

0 o 3 

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H= 8 















tP CO 

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o d 







































































It is clear that the first two groups of enterprises (hay and 
grain, and miscellaneous) may be classified as average both 
as regards the degree of their capitalist development (their 
expenditures for hired labour are nearest the average — 
0.35 to 0.47, as against an average of 0.43 for the U.S.A.) 
and the intensiveness of agriculture. All the characteristics 
of intensive operations — expenditures for fertilisers, the 
per-acre value of machinery and livestock — are nearest to 
the general average for the U.S.A. 

There is no doubt that these two groups are especially 
typical of the majority of agricultural enterprises in general. 
Hay and grain, followed by a combination of various farm 
products ("miscellaneous" sources of income), are the chief 
types of agricultural enterprises in all countries. It would be 
extremely interesting to have more detailed data about these 
groups, such, for instance, as a breakdown into more and 
less commercialised enterprises, etc. But, as we have seen, 
the American Census, having made one step in that direc- 
tion, did not go forward, but went back. 

The next two groups, livestock and cotton, are an example 
of farms with the least capitalistic development (the expend- 
itures for hired labour: 0.29 to 0.30 as against the average 
of 0.43), and the least intensive methods of agriculture. 
Their values of implements and machinery are the lowest 
and considerably lower than the average (0.66 and 0.53 as 
against 0.90). Farms whose principal source of income is 
livestock naturally have more livestock per acre than the 
average for the U.S.A. (4.45 as against 3.66), but appear to 
be engaged in extensive livestock raising: their expenditures 
for fertilisers are the minimum, they have the largest average 
acreage (226.9 acres) and the smallest proportion of improved 
acreage (86.1 out of 226.9). The cotton farms have a 
higher-than-average figure for fertilisers, but other indexes 
indicative of intensive agriculture (the per-acre value of 
livestock and machinery) are very low. 

Finally, the last three groups — vegetables, fruit, and dairy 
produce — include farms which are, first, the smallest in 
acreage (33 to 63 acres of improved land, as against 42 to 86 
and 46 to 111 in the other groups); secondly, the most capi- 
talist: they have the heaviest expenditure of hired labour, 


from 2 to 6 times the average; and thirdly, the most intensive. 
Almost all the indexes of intensive agriculture are above 
the average: the expenditure on fertilisers, the value of 
machinery, the value of livestock (a minor exception are the 
fruit-growing farms which lag behind the average, but are 
well ahead of the farms which derive their income chiefly 
from hay and grain). 

Let us now see what is the share of these highly capi- 
talist farms in the country's economy. But we must first 
examine their intensive character in somewhat greater 

Take the farms whose main income is derived from vege- 
tables. It is well known that in all capitalist countries the 
development of towns, factories, industrial settlements, 
railway stations, ports, etc., stimulates a demand for this type 
of product, it pushes up their prices, and increases the number 
of agricultural enterprises raising them for the market. The 
average "vegetable" farm has less than one-third of the 
improved acreage of an "ordinary" farm deriving income 
chiefly from hay and grain: the former is 33.8 acres, and the 
latter, 111.1. This means that this particular technical level 
with this particular accumulation of capital in agriculture 
requires "vegetable" farms of smaller acreage; in other words, 
if capital invested in agriculture is to yield a not less-than- 
average profit, a vegetable-raising farm should have, tech- 
nology being what it is, a smaller acreage than a hay-and- 
grain farm. 

But that is not all. The growth of capitalism in agricul- 
ture consists above all in a transition from natural agricul- 
ture to commercial agriculture. This is being constantly 
forgotten, and must be brought up again and again. Commer- 
cial agriculture, it should be noted, does not develop along 
the "simple" lines imagined or projected by bourgeois econ- 
omists, namely, through an ever greater output of the same 
products. Not at all. Commercial agriculture very frequently 
develops by shifting from one type of product to another, 
and the shift from hay and grain to vegetables is very com- 
mon. But what bearing does it have on the question before 
us, that of farm acreage and the growth of capitalism in 



Such a shift signifies the split-up of a "large" 111.1-acre 
farm into more than three "small" 33.8-acre farms. The old 
farm produced a value of $760 — the average value of its 
products, less the feed raised on the farm, whose chief source 
of income is hay and grain. Each of the new farms produces 
a value of $665, or a total of $665X3= $1,995, i.e., more 
than double the original figure. 

As large-scale production displaces small-scale production, 
farm acreage is reduced. 

The average expenditure on hired labour on the old 
farm was $76; on the new farm it is $106, or almost half 
as much again, while acreage is one-third or even less. 
Expenditure on fertilisers has gone up from $0.04 per acre 
to $0.59, an increase of almost 15 times; the value of imple- 
ments and machinery has doubled from $1.04 to $2.12, 

There will, of course, be the usual objection that the number 
of such highly capitalist farms with specialised "commer- 
cial" crops is negligible, as compared with the total. The 
answer is that, first, the number and the role, the economic 
role of such farms, are much greater than is generally rea 
Used; and secondly — and this is the most important point — 
it is such crops that are developed more rapidly than others 
in the capitalist countries. That is just why a reduction in 
farm acreage with the intensification of agriculture so 
often implies an increase and not a reduction in the scale 
of operations, an increase and not a decrease in the exploita- 
tion of hired labour. 

Here are the exact American statistics for the country as 
a whole. Let us take all the special, or "commercial", crops 
listed above under heads 5-14, namely, vegetables, fruit, 
dairy produce, tobacco, rice, sugar, flowers, nursery prod- 
ucts, taro, and coffee. In 1900, these products were the 
principal source of income for 12.5 per cent of all farms in 
the U.S.A. This is one-eighth, a very small minority. 
Their acreage was 8.6 per cent, or one-twelfth, of the total. 
But to continue. Let us take the total value of the products 
of American agriculture (less feed). Of this value the farms 
in question accounted for as much as 16 per cent, i.e., their 
share of the value was almost double their share of the acre- 



This means that the productivity of labour and land 
on these farms was almost double the average. 

Let us take the sum total of expenditure on hired labour 
in American agriculture. Of this total, 26.6 per cent, 
i.e., over one-quarter, fell to the farms in question. 
This is more than three times their share of the acreage, 
and more than three times the average. This means that 
these farms are very much more capitalist than the ave- 

Their share of the total value of implements and machinery 
is 20.1 per cent, and of the expenditures for fertilisers, 
31.7 per cent, i.e., slightly less than one-third of the total, 
and nearly four times the average. 

Consequently, an incontrovertible fact is established for 
the country as a whole. It is that the especially intensive 
farms have an especially small acreage, especially great em- 
ployment of hired labour, and especially high productivity 
of labour; that the economic role of these farms in the na- 
tion's agriculture is two, three and more times greater than 
their proportion of the total number of farms, to say nothing 
of their share of the total acreage. 

As time goes on, does the role of these highly capitalist 
and highly intensive crops and farms increase or decrease in 
comparison with other crops and farms? 

The answer is provided by a comparison of the last two 
census reports: their role is unquestionably increasing. Let 
us take the acreage planted to the various crops. From 1900 
to 1910, the acreage under grain increased by only 3.5 per 
cent for the U.S.A.; under beans, peas, and the like, 26.6 
per cent; hay and forage, 17.2 per cent; cotton, 32 per cent; 
vegetables, 25.5 per cent; sugar-beets, sugar-cane, etc., 
62.6 per cent. 

Let us examine the crop returns. From 1900 to 1910, the 
grain crop went up only 1.7 per cent; beans, 122.2 per cent; 
hay and forage, 23 per cent; sugar-beets, 395.7 per cent; 
sugar-cane, 48.5 per cent; potatoes, 42.4 per cent; grapes, 
97.6 per cent; there was a poor crop of berries, apples, etc., 
in 1910, but the orange and lemon crops, etc., were treble 
those of 1900. 

Thus, the apparently paradoxical but nevertheless proven 
fact has been shown to apply to U.S. agriculture as a whole 



that, generally speaking, small-scale production is not 
only being displaced by large scale production, but also 
that this displacement is taking place in the following 

Small-scale production is being crowded out by large- 
scale production through the displacement of farms which 
are "larger" in acreage, but are less productive, less intensive 
and less capitalist, by farms which are "smaller" in acreage, 
but are more productive, more intensive, and more capital- 


The objection may be raised that if the displacement of 
small-scale production "also" proceeds in the form of the 
intensification (and "capitalisation") of operations on the 
smaller-size farms, is the grouping by acreage of any use 
at all? Is this not a case of two contradictory tendencies 
which make any general conclusion impossible? 

This objection can be met by a complete picture of Ameri- 
can agriculture and its evolution; to meet it we must try 
to compare all three methods of grouping which present, 
as it were, the maximum of information social statis- 
tics has produced in the sphere of agriculture in recent 

Such a comparison is possible. All it calls for is a table 
which may at first sight appear to be so abstract and complex 
that it may "scare" the reader away. However, it takes only a 
little bit of concentration to "read", understand and analyse 
the table. 

To compare the three different groupings we need take only 
their percentage ratios. All the necessary calculations are 
given in the American Census report for 1900. Each grouping 
is tabulated under three main heads. By acreage we have: 
(1) small farms (under 100 acres), (2) medium (100 to 175 
acres), and (3) large (175 and over). By value of product we 
have: (1) non-capitalist farms (under $500), (2) medium 


($500 to 1,000), and (3) capitalist ($1,000 and over). By the 
principal source of income we take (1) slightly capital- 
ist (livestock, cotton), (2) medium (hay and grain; and 
miscellaneous), and (3) highly capitalist (the special "com- 
mercial" crops listed above, in Chapter 12, under heads 5 
to 14). 

For every group we first take the percentage of farms, i.e., 
the number of farms in a given group expressed as a percent- 
age ratio of the total number of farms in the U.S.A. We 
then take the percentage of all land, i.e., the total acreage 
in a given group expressed as a percentage ratio of the total 
acreage of all farms in the U.S.A. The acreage serves as an 
indicator of the extensive character of the enterprise (un- 
fortunately, the only figures available are for total acreage, 
instead of the improved acreage only, which would have 
been more exact). If the percentage share of the total acreage 
is higher than the percentage share of the number of farms, 
for example, if 17.2 per cent of the farms have 43.1 per cent 
of the land, it is evident that we are dealing with large 
farms, larger-than-average farms, which are besides more 
than double the size of the average farm. The reverse is true 
if the percentage of land is lower than the percentage of 

Next come the indexes of intensiveness of agriculture: 
the value of implements and machinery, and the total 
expenditure on fertilisers. Here, too, we take the value and 
the expenditure in the given group expressed as a percentage 
share of the totals for the country as a whole. Here again, 
if the percentage is higher than the percentage of land, the 
conclusion is that intensiveness is above the average, 

Finally, in order to determine exactly the capitalist 
character of the enterprises, the same method is applied to 
the total expenditure on hired labour; while in order to 
determine the scale of production this is done in relation 
to the total value of the agricultural product for the entire 

This has produced the following table, which I shall now 
proceed to explain and analyse: 



Index of 
of agriculture 

Index of 
f* ness of 

Index of 
character of 

By value of 






^9 3 






9^ fi 


-uo N 





99 1 

By farm acreage 

















By principle source 
of income 













3Q n 


%qSi tS 




o c o 


^ fl 

Number of farms 

Total acreage 

>H +5 -S g CO 

° g^g s 
s e a e? £3 

-3,2 ° ® 413 

s — , — y 



33 m S 
CS .S -Q 

+3 ^ 


« & 

jo apog 



Let us consider the first grouping — according to the 
principal source of income. Here farms are grouped, so to 
say, according to their line of farming, which is to some 
extent similar to the grouping of industrial enterprises by 
branches of industry. But the picture is immensely more com- 
plex in agriculture. 

The first column shows the group of slightly capitalist 
farms. It comprises almost one-half the total number of 
farms — 46 per cent. They own 52.9 per cent of the total 
acreage, i.e., they are larger than average (this group includes 
both the very large, extensive, livestock farms and the small- 
er-than-average cotton farms). Their shares of the value of 
machinery (37.2 per cent) and the expenditure on fertilisers 
(36.5 per cent) are lower than their acreage percentages, 
which means that their intensiveness is lower than the aver- 
age. The same thing is true of the capitalist character of the 
enterprise (35.2 per cent) and the value of the product (45 per 
cent). Hence, their productivity of labour is lower than the 

The second column shows the medium farms. Because 
farms which are "medium" in every respect fall into the 
medium group by all three methods of grouping, we find 
here that all their percentage ratios are closer to each other 
than in any of the other groups. The fluctuations are rela- 
tively small. 

The third column shows the highly capitalist farms. I gave 
above a detailed analysis of what the figures in this column 
mean. Be it noted that only for this type of farm do we have 
accurate and comparable data both for 1900 and 1910 — data 
testifying that these highly capitalist crops have a faster- 
than-average rate of development. 

In what way is this more rapid development evident in 
the ordinary classification in use in most countries? This 
is shown in the next column: the small farms grouped by 

This group consists of a great number of farms (57.5 per 
cent of the total). Its acreage is only 17.5 per cent of the 
total, i.e., less than one-third of the average. Hence, this is 
the "poorest" group, the most "land-starved" group. But then 
we and that it has a higher-than-average intensiveness of 
agriculture (the value of machinery and expenditures for 



fertilisers); that it is more capitalist (expenditures for hired 
labour); and that it has a /iig/ier-than-average-productivity 
of labour (value of product): 22.3 to 41.9 per cent with 17.5 
per cent of the acreage. 

What is the explanation? Obviously that an especially 
large number of highly capitalist farms — see the preceding 
vertical column — fall into this "smaLT'-acreage group. 
A minority of rich, capital-owning farmers conducting large- 
scale capitalist operations on small tracts of land are added 
to a majority of really small farmers who have little land 
and little capital. Such farmers make up only 12.5 per cent 
(=the percentage of highly capitalist farms) of the total in 
America, which means that even if they were all to be put 
into this one group of small-acreage farms, 45 per cent of the 
farmers in that group (57.5 — 12.5) would still be short of 
land and capital. Actually, of course, a part of the highly 
capitalist farms, even if only a small one, consists of medium 
and large-acreage farms, so that the figure of 45 per cent 
in fact understates the actual number of farmers who have 
little land and no capital. 

It will be easily seen how the condition of these 45 per 
cent — a minimum of 45 per cent — of the farmers who are poor 
in land and capital is embellished by the inclusion into the 
same group of some 12,10 or so per cent of farmers who are 
supplied with higher-than-average amounts of capital, 
machinery, money to buy fertilisers, hire labour, and the rest 
of it. 

I shall not dwell separately on the medium and large 
farms of this grouping, for this would be to repeat, in slightly 
different words what has been said about the small 
farms. For instance, if the data on the small-acreage farms 
put a better complexion on the oppressed condition of small- 
scale production, the data on the large-acreage farms obvi- 
ously minimise the actual concentration of agriculture by 
large-scale production. We shall presently see an exact 
statistical expression of this minimised concentration. 

We thus arrive at the following general proposition which 
may be formulated as a law applicable to the grouping of 
farms by acreage in any capitalist country: 

The broader and more rapid the intensification of agricul- 
ture, the more the classification by acreage serves to give 


a rosy picture of the oppressed condition of small-scale pro- 
duction in agriculture, the condition of the small farmer 
who is short of both land and capital; the more it serves to 
blunt the real sharpness of the class contradiction between 
the prospering large-scale producer and the small-scale pro- 
ducer going to the wall; the more it serves to minimise the 
concentration of capital in the hands of big operators and the 
displacement of the small. 

This is graphically confirmed by the third, and last, clas- 
sification, according to the value of product. The percentage 
of non-capitalistic farms (or not very profitable farms in 
terms of gross income) is 58.8 per cent, i.e., even somewhat 
more than the "small" farms (57.5 per cent). They have much 
more land than the group of "small" farmers (33.3 per cent as 
against 17.5 per cent). But their share of the total value of 
the product is one-third smaller: 22.1 per cent as against 33.5 
per cent! 

What is the explanation? It is that this group does not 
include the highly capitalistic farms on small tracts which 
have artificially and falsely inflated the small farmers' share 
of the capital in the form of machinery, fertilisers, etc. 

Thus, the oppression and dispossession — and hence the 
ruin — of the small producer in agriculture turn out to be 
much more advanced than one would suppose from the data 
on small farms. 

The returns for the small and large farms, grouped by 
acreage, take no account of the role of capital, and the fail- 
ure to reckon with this "trifle" in capitalist enterprise dis- 
torts the condition of the small producer, puts a false colour 
on it, for it "could be" tolerable "but for" the existence of 
capital, i.e., the power of money, and the relationship 
between the hired labourer and the capitalist, between the 
farmer and the merchant and creditor, etc.! 

For that reason the concentration of agriculture as shown 
by the large farms is much lower than its concentration as 
shown by large-scale, i.e., capitalist, production: 39.2 per 
cent of the value of the product (slightly more than double 
the average) is concentrated on 17.7 per cent of "large" 
farms, while 52.3 per cent of the total value of the product, 
i.e., more than three times the average, is concentrated on 
17.2 per cent capitalist farms. 



In the country which practises the free distribution of 
vast tracts of unoccupied land, and which the Manilovs 5 
consider a country of "family" farms, more than one-half of 
the total agricultural production is concentrated in about 
one-sixth of the capitalist enterprises, whose expenditure 
on hired labour is four times greater than the per-farm average 
(69.1 per cent on 17.2 per cent of the total number of 
farms), and are half as great again as the per-acre average 
(69.1 per cent of the expenditure on hired labour on farms 
owning 43.1 per cent of the total amount of land). 

At the other pole, more than one-half, almost three- 
fifths, of the total number of farms (58.8 per cent) are 
non-capitalist. They have one-third of the land (33.3 per 
cent) but on it they have less than the average quantity of 
machinery (25.3 per cent of the value of machinery); they 
use less fertilisers than the average (29.1 per cent of the 
expenditures for fertilisers) and so its productivity is only 
two-thirds of the average. With one-third of the total acreage, 
this immense number of-farms, which suffer the greatest oppres- 
sion under the yoke of capital, produce less than one-quarter 
(22.1 per cent) of the total product and of its total value. 

Consequently, we arrive at a general conclusion concern- 
ing the significance of classification by acreage, namely, 
that it is not entirely useless. The one thing that should 
never be forgotten is that it understates the displacement of 
small-scale by large-scale production, and that the under- 
statement increases with the pace and scope of intensifica- 
tion of agriculture, and with the gap between the amounts of 
capital invested by the farms per unit of land. With modern 
methods of research, which produce an abundance of sound 
information about each farm, it would, for instance, be suf- 
ficient to combine two methods of classification — say, 
each of the five acreage groups could bo broken down into 
two or three subgroups according to the employment of hired 
labour. If this is not done it is largely because of the fear 
of giving a much too naked picture of reality, a much too 
striking picture of the oppression, impoverishment, ruin, 
expropriation of the mass of small farmers, whose condition 
is so "conveniently" and "unnoticeably" made to look better 
by the "model" capitalist enterprises, which are also "small" 
in acreage and which are a small minority within the mass of 


the dispossessed. From the scientific standpoint no one would 
dare deny that not only land, but also capital has a part to 
play in modern agriculture. From the standpoint of statisti- 
cal techniques, or the amount of statistical work involved, a 
total number of 10 to 15 groups is not at all excessive in com- 
parison, for instance, with the 18 plus 7 groups based on 
acreage given in the German statistical report of 1907. This 
report, which classifies an abundance of material about 
5,736,082 farms into the above number of acreage groups, is 
an example of bureaucratic routine, scientific rubbish, a 
meaningless juggling of figures, for there is not a shadow of 
any reasonable, rational, theoretical or practical ground for 
accepting such a number of groups as typical. 


The question of the expropriation of the small farmers is 
immensely important to an understanding and assessment of 
capitalism in agriculture in general, and it is highly charac- 
teristic of modern political economy and statistics, which 
are saturated through and through with bourgeois notions 
and prejudices, that this question is either practically not 
considered at all or is given the least attention. 

The general statistics in all capitalist countries show that 
the urban population is growing at the expense of the rural, 
that the population is abandoning the countryside. In the 
U.S.A., this process is steadily advancing. The proportion 
of the urban population increased from 29.5 per cent in 
1880, to 36.1 per cent in 1890, 40.5 per cent in 1900, and 46.3 
per cent in 1910. In every part of the country the urban 
population is growing more rapidly than the rural population: 
from 1900 to 1910, the rural population in the industrial 
North-went up by 3.9 per cent and the urban by 29.8 per 
cent; in the former slave-holding South, the rural population 
increased by 14.8 per cent, and the urban, by 41.4 per cent; 
in the homestead West, the figures were 49.7 and 89.6 per 
cent, respectively. 

One should think that such a universal process would 
also have to be studied in the taking of agricultural censuses. 
A most important question from the scientific standpoint 
naturally arises as to what sections, strata or groups of the 



rural population provide the fugitives from the countryside 
and in what circumstances. Since highly detailed informa- 
tion about each agricultural enterprise and about each ani- 
mal in it is collected every ten years, it would be no trouble 
at all to include questions as to how many and what kind 
of farms were sold or rented with an eye to moving into 
town, and how many members of households abandoned 
farming temporarily or for good, and in what circumstances. 
But no such questions are asked: the investigation does not 
go beyond the official stereotyped statement: "The rural 
population decreased from 59.5 per cent in 1900 to 53.7 per 
cent in 1910." The census-takers seem to have no inkling 
of the mass of misery, oppression and ruin concealed behind 
these routine figures. As a general rule, bourgeois and petty- 
bourgeois economists turn a blind eye to the obvious con- 
nection between the flight of the population from the coun- 
tryside and the ruin of the small producers. 

There is no alternative, therefore, but to try and bring 
together the relatively meagre and very badly compiled 
data on the expropriation of the small farmers gleaned from 
the 1910 Census report. 

There are the figures on the forms of farm tenure: the num- 
ber of owners, subdivided into full and part owners; and the 
number of share-cropping tenants and cash-paying tenants. 
These figures are tabulated for the various divisions but not 
the farm groups. 

Here is the first picture we get from the totals for 1900 
and 1910: 

Total rural population increase .... 11.2 per cent 
Total number of farms increased . . . 10.9 " " 
Total number of owners increased. . . 8.1 " " 
Total number of full owners increased. 4.8 " " 

This picture is a clear indication of the growing expropria- 
tion of small-scale agriculture. The rural population is 
increasing more slowly than the urban. The number of 
farmers is increasing more slowly than the rural population; 
the number of owners is increasing more slowly than the 
number of farmers; the number of full owners — more slowly 
than the number of owners in general. 

The proportion of owners in the total number of farmers 
has been decreasing steadily over a period of several decades, 
as follows: 


1880 74.0 per cent 

1890 71.6 " " 

1900 64.7 " " 

1910 63.0 " " 

There is a corresponding growth in the proportion of 
tenants, with the number of share-cropping tenants going up 
faster than that of cash-paying tenants. The number of 
share-cropping tenants was 17.5 per cent in 1880; then it 
rose to 18.4 per cent and 22.2 per cent, and finally to 24 per 
cent in 1910. 

It is evident from the following figures that the decrease 
in the proportion of owners and the increase in the propor- 
tion of tenants is, on the whole, an indication of the dispos- 
session and displacement of the small farmers: 

Percentage of farms owning 
Class of farm domestic animals horses 

1900 1910 +/- 1900 1910 +/- 

Owners .... 96.7 96.1 —0.6 85.0 81.5 —3.5 
Tenants. . . . 94.2 92.9 — 1.3 67.9 60.7 — 7.2 

According to all the returns for both census years the 
owners are economically stronger. The condition of the 
tenants is deteriorating more rapidly than that of the owners. 

Let us examine separately the figures for the sections. 

The greatest number of tenants, as I have already said, 
is in the South, and there tenancy has the fastest rate of 
growth: it rose from 47 per cent in 1900, to 49.6 per cent 
in 1910. Capital defeated slavery half a century ago, merely 
to restore it now in a new form as share tenancy. 

In the North, the number of tenants is considerably smaller 
and is growing at a much slower rate: it went up from 26.2 
per cent in 1900, to only 26.5 per cent in 1910. The West 
has the smallest number of tenants, and it is the only section 
where tenancy, instead of increasing, decreased: it fell 
from 16.6 per cent in 1900 to 14.0 per cent in 1910. "A very 
low proportion of tenant farms," says the Census report for 
1910, "is also shown for the Mountain and Pacific divisions 
[the two divisions constituting "The West"]*, where it is 

* Interpolations in square brackets (within passages quoted by 
Lenin) have been introduced by Lenin, unless otherwise indicated. — 



doubtless attributable mainly to the fact that those divisions 
have been only recently settled and that many of the farmers 
in them are homesteaders who have obtained their land from 
the Government" free or for a very small price (Vol. V, 
p. 104). 

This is a striking example of the peculiar characteristic 
of the U.S.A., to which I have repeatedly referred, namely, 
the availability of unoccupied, free land. This explains, 
on the one hand, the extremely rapid and extensive develop- 
ment of capitalism in America. The absence of private prop- 
erty in land in some parts of a vast country does not exclude 
capitalism — our Narodniks should make a note of this! — 
on the contrary, it broadens its base, and accelerates its 
development. Upon the other hand, this peculiarity, which is 
entirely unknown in the old, long-settled capitalist countries 
of Europe, serves in America to cover up the expropriation 
of the small farmers — a process already under way in the 
settled and most industrialised parts of the country. 

Let us take the North. We get the following picture: 

1900 1910 

+ or — 

Total rural population (000,000) . . 22.2 23.1 + 3.9 

Total number of farms (000) . . . 2,874 2,891 + 0.6 

Total number of owners (000). . . 2,088 2,091 +0.1 

Total number of full owners (000). 1,794 1,749 —2.5 

We see not only a relative reduction in the number of 
owners, not only a decline in their proportion of the total 
number of farmers, etc., but even an absolute decrease in the 
number of owners, against a background of growing produc- 
tion in the main section of the U.S.A., which embraces 60 
per cent of the country's improved acreage! 

It should, besides, be borne in mind that in one of the 
four divisions making up the North, namely, the West North 
Central, the allotment of homesteads continues to this very 
day, and that 54 million acres were allotted in the 10 years 
from 1901 to 1910. 

The tendency of capitalism to expropriate small-scale 
agriculture is so strong that the American "North" shows an 
absolute decrease in the number of landowners, in spite of 
the distribution of tens of millions of acres of unoccupied, 
free land. 


Only two factors still serve to paralyse this tendency in 
the U.S.A.: (1) the existence of the still unparcelled slave- 
holding plantations in the South, with its oppressed and 
downtrodden Negro population; and (2) the fact that the 
West is still partly unsettled. Both these factors tend to 
widen the future base of capitalism, and so prepare the con- 
ditions for its even more extensive and more rapid develop- 
ment. The sharpening of contradictions and the displacement 
of small-scale production are not removed but are transferred 
to a larger arena. The capitalist fire appears to be "damped 
down" — but at the price of an even greater accumulation of 
new and more inflammable material. 

Furthermore, on the question of the expropriation of 
small-scale agriculture, we have the returns for the number 
of farms owning livestock. Here are the figures for the 

Percentage of farms 




+ or — 

Domestic animals in 











These figures show, on the whole, a reduction in the num- 
ber of owners in proportion to the total number of farmers. 
The increase in the percentage of those who owned dairy 
cows was smaller than the drop in the percentage of those 
who owned horses. 

Let us now examine the figures for farms grouped in rela- 
tion to the two major kinds of livestock. 

Percentage of farms 

Size group (acres) 

owning dairy 


+ or — 



Under 20 



+ 3.4 

20 to 49 



+ 5.3 

50 to 99 



+ 3.0 

100 to 174 



+ 0.9 

175 to 499 



+ 0.9 

500 to 999 



— 0.7 

1,000 and over 



+ 3.1 



+ 2.1 

We find that the greatest increase was in the number of 
small farms with dairy cows, then came the latifundia, and 
then the medium-size farms. There was a decrease in the 



percentage of farms reporting dairy cows among the big 
owners, with 500 to 999 acres of land. 

On the whole, this seems to indicate a gain for small-scale 
agriculture. Let us recall, however, that in farming 
the ownership of dairy cattle has a twofold significance: on 
the one hand, it may generally indicate a higher living 
standard and better conditions of nutrition. On the other 
hand, it signifies — and rather more frequently — a develop- 
ment of one branch of commercial farming and cattle-breed- 
ing: the production of milk for the market in the towns 
and industrial centres. We saw above that farms of this type, 
the "dairy" farms, were classified by American statisticians 
under a special head, according to the principal source of 
income. A characteristic of this group is that it has a smaller- 
than-average total and improved acreage, but a greater- 
than-average value of output, and a double-the-average 
employment of hired labour per acre. The increasing impor- 
tance of small farms in dairy farming may simply mean — 
and most likely does mean — a growth of capitalist dairy 
farms of the type described, on small tracts of land. For the 
sake of comparison here are some figures on the concentration 
of dairy cattle in America: 

Average number of 
Sections dairy cows per farm Increase 

1900 1910 

The North 4.8 5.3 +0.5 

The South 2.3 2.4 +0.1 

The West 5.0 5.2 +0.2 

Overall average .... 3.8 4.0 +0.2 

We find that the North, which is richest of all in dairy 
cattle, also showed the greatest increase in wealth. 
Here is a distribution of this increase among the groups: 

The North 
Size group (acres) 

Under 20 . 

20 to 49 . 

50 to 99 . 

100 to 174 . 

175 to 499 . 

500 to 999 . 
1,000 and over 

Overall increase 

Percentage increase or decrease in 
number of dairy cows from 1900 to 1910 

— 4 ( + 10.0 in the number of farms 

— 3 (—12.6 
+ 9(— 7.3 
+14 (+ 2.2 
+18 ( + 12.7 
+18 ( + 15.4 

+14 (+ 0.6 in the number of farms) 



The more rapid growth in the number of small farms with 
dairy cattle did not prevent its more rapid concentration 
in the large enterprises. 

Let us now turn to the figures on the number of farms 
reporting horses. This information about draught animals 
is an indication of the general pattern of farming and not 
of any special branch of commercial farming. 

Percentage of farms 

Size group (acres) 

reporting horses 




Under 20 




20 to 49 




50 to 99 




100 to 174 




175 to 499 




500 to 999 




1,000 and over 




Average for the U.S.A. 




We find that as we go down the size-group scale there is a 
rising number of farms not reporting horses. With the 
exception of the smallest farms (under 20 acres) which, as we 
know, include a comparatively greater number of capital- 
istic farms than the neighbouring groups, we observe a rapid 
decrease in the number of horseless farms and a much slower 
increase in their number. The use of steam ploughs and other 
engines on the rich farms may partly compensate for the 
reduction in draught animals, but such an assumption is out 
of the question for the mass of the poorer farms. 

Finally, the growth of expropriation is also evident from 
the returns on the number of mortgaged farms: 

Sections Percentage of mortgaged farms 





North .... 





South .... 





West .... 





for the U.S.A. 




The percentage of mortgaged farms is on a steady increase 
in all sections, and it is highest in the most populous indus- 
trialised and capitalist North. American statisticians point 
out (Vol. V, p. 159) that the growth in the number of mortgaged 



farms in the South is probably due to the "parcelling 
out" of the plantations, which are sold in lots to Negro and 
white farmers, who pay only a part of the purchase price, 
the rest being covered by a mortgage on the property. Con- 
sequently a peculiar buying-up operation is under way 
in the slave-holding South. Let us note that in 1910 Negroes 
in the U.S.A. owned only 920,883 farms, i.e., 14.5 per cent of 
the total; between 1900 and 1910, the number of white 
farms increased 9.5 per cent, and that of Negro farms, twice 
as fast — 19.6 per cent. The Negro urge to emancipation from 
the "plantation owners" half a century after the "victory" 
over the slave-owners is still marked by an exceptional 

The American statisticians also point out that the mort- 
gaging of a farm does not always indicate lack of prosper- 
ity; it is sometimes a way of obtaining capital for land 
improvement; and the like. This is indisputable, but this 
indisputable observation should not conceal the fact — as 
is much too often the case with bourgeois economists — that 
only a well-to-do minority are in a position to obtain capi- 
tal for improvements, etc., in this way, and to employ it 
productively; the majority are further impoverished and 
fall into the clutches of finance capital assuming this partic- 
ular form. 

Researchers could — and should — have paid much more 
attention to the dependence of farmers on finance capital. 
But although this aspect of the matter is immensely impor- 
tant, it has remained in the background. 

The growth in the number of mortgaged farms in any 
case means that the actual control over them is transferred 
to the capitalists. It stands to reason that apart from 
officially recorded and notarised mortgages, a considerable 
number of farms are steeped in private debt, which is not 
covered by strict legal instruments and is not recorded by the 


American census statistics, for all their shortcomings, 
compare favourably with those of other countries because 
of the completeness and uniformity of the methods used. 


This makes it possible to compare the returns for industry 
and agriculture for 1900 and 1910, and to contrast the over- 
all picture of the structure of both sectors of the economy 
and the evolution of this structure. One of the most popular 
ideas in bourgeois economics — an idea, incidentally, which 
Mr. Himmer repeats — is to contrast industry and agricul- 
ture. Let us see, in the light of a mass of precise data, what 
truth there is in such a contrast. 

Let us begin with the number of enterprises in industry 
and in agriculture. 

Number of enterprises Growth of 

(000) Increase urban and 

1900 1910 (per cent) rural popula- 

tion (per cent) 

Industry 207.5 268.5 +29.4 +34.8 

Agriculture 5,737 6,361 +10.9 +11.2 

The enterprises in agriculture are much more numerous 
and much smaller. That is an expression of its backwardness, 
parcellisation, and dispersion. 

The number of enterprises increases much more slowly in 
agriculture than in industry. There are two factors in the 
United States which do not exist in other leading countries, 
and which greatly intensify and accelerate the growth in 
the number of enterprises in agriculture. They are, first, 
the continued parcelling out of the slave-holding latifundia 
in the South and "buying-up" by Negro and also by white 
farmers of small parcels from the "planters"; secondly, the 
availability of an immense quantity of unoccupied, free 
land, which is distributed by the government to all appli- 
cants. Nevertheless the number of enterprises in agriculture 
is increasing at a slower rate than in industry. 

The reason is twofold. On the one hand, agriculture to 
a rather large extent retains the character of a "natural" 
economy, and various operations once performed by members 
of a peasant household are gradually branching off from 
agriculture — for example, the making and repair of various 
implements, utensils, etc. — and now constitute separate 
industries. On the other hand, there is a monopoly which is 
peculiar to agriculture and unknown to industry, and which 
cannot be eliminated under capitalism — the monopoly of 
land ownership. Even when there is no private property in 

94 V. I. LENIN 

land — in the United States none actually exists on very large 
areas to this very day — monopoly is created by the owner- 
ship of land and its occupation by individual private oper- 
ators. In the country's most important regions all the land 
is occupied, and an increase in the number of agricultural 
enterprises is possible only when existing enterprises are 
broken up; the free formation of new enterprises alongside 
the old is impossible. The monopoly of land ownership is 
a drag on the development of agriculture, and this monopoly 
retards the development of capitalism in agriculture, which, 
therefore, is unlike industry in this respect. 

We are unable to make an accurate comparison of the 
amounts of capital invested in industrial and in agricultural 
enterprises because ground-rent forms a part of the value 
of the land. Accordingly, we have to compare the capital 
invested in industry and the value of industrial products 
with the total value of all farm property and the value of 
the major farm product. Only the percentages showing 
increases in the total values on both sides are strictly compa- 

£ >> f Capital of all enterprises . 
n \ Value of products . . . . 

^ ( Value of all farm property 
.u £ J Value of all cereal crops . 

I Production of cereals in 
< I bushels (000,000) . . . 





(per cent) 
















We find that during the 10 years from 1900 to 1910 the 
value of capital invested in industry and the value of all 
farm property have doubled. The great and fundamental dif- 
ference between the two is that in agriculture the major 
product, cereals, increased by an insignificant 1.7 per cent — 
while the total population increased 21 per cent. 

Agriculture lags behind industry in development; this 
is a feature of all capitalist countries constituting one of 
the most profound causes of disproportion between the vari- 
ous branches of the economy, of crises and soaring prices. 

Capital liberated agriculture from feudalism and drew 
it into commodity circulation and thereby into world 


economic development, lifting it from medieval backwardness 
and patriarchal stagnation. But capital, instead of eliminat- 
ing the oppression, exploitation and poverty of the masses, 
produces these calamities in a new guise and restores their 
old forms on a "modern" basis. The contradiction between 
industry and agriculture, far from being eliminated by capi- 
talism, is, on the contrary, further extended and sharpened 
by it. The oppression of capital, seen primarily in the sphere 
of trade and industry, weighs more and more heavily on 

The insignificant increase in the quantity of agricultural 
produce (+1.7 per cent) and the enormous increase in its 
value (+79.8 per cent) shows clearly, on the one hand, the 
role of ground-rent, the tribute extorted from society by 
the landowners. Because of their monopolist position, 
they are able to take advantage of the backwardness of 
agriculture, which does not keep pace with industry, and to 
fill their pockets with millions and millions of dollars. In 
the 10 years, the value of all farm property increased by 
$20,500 million, of which only $5,000 million constituted 
the increase in the value of buildings, livestock and equip- 
ment. The value of land — capitalised ground-rent — increased 
in the 10 years by $15,000 million (+118.1 per cent). 

On the other hand, the difference in the class status of the 
small farmers and the hired labourers is here thrown into 
especially sharp relief. To be sure, both labour; to be sure, 
both are subject to exploitation by capital, though in en- 
tirely different forms. But only vulgar bourgeois democrats 
will for this reason put the two different classes together and 
speak of small-scale operations by family farms. To do 
so is to cover up and disguise the social system of the econo- 
my — its bourgeois nature — and push into the foreground a 
feature common to all earlier formations, namely, the neces- 
sity for the petty farmer to work, to engage in personal, 
physical labour, if he is to survive. 

Under capitalism, the small farmer — whether he wants 
to or not, whether he is aware of it or not — becomes a com- 
modity producer. And it is this change that is fundamental, 
for it alone, even when he does not as yet exploit hired labour, 
makes him a petty bourgeois and converts him into an 
antagonist of the proletariat. He sells his product, while 



the proletarian sells his labour-power. The small farmers, 
as a class, cannot but seek a rise in the prices of agricultural 
products, and this is tantamount to their joining the big 
landowners in sharing the ground-rent, and siding with 
the landowners against the rest of society. As commodity 
production develops, the small farmer, in accordance with 
his class status, inevitably becomes a petty landed proprie- 

There are cases even among wage-workers when a small 
part of them side with their masters against the whole class 
of wage-earners. But this is merely a small fraction of a class 
uniting with its antagonists, against the entire class. It 
is impossible to imagine any improvement of the condition 
of wage-earners as a class, without an improvement in the 
living standard of the masses, or without a sharpening of 
the antagonism between them and capital, which rules con- 
temporary society, the antagonism between them and the 
entire class of capitalists. But it is quite possible, on the 
contrary, to imagine a state of affairs — indeed, such a situa- 
tion is even typical of capitalism — where an improvement in 
the condition of the small farmers, as a class, results from 
their alliance with the big landlords, their participation in 
exacting a higher ground-rent from society as a whole, the 
contradictions arising between them and the mass of prole- 
tarians and semi-proletarians, who depend, entirely or at 
least mostly, on the sale of their labour-power. 

Here is a comparison of American statistics on the number 
and position of wage-earners and of small farmers: 



(per cent) 


" Number of wage-earners (000). . 
1 Their wages ($000,000) .... 





' Number of wage-earners (000). . 
Their wages ($000,000) .... 





c. 47.1 


Number of farmers (000) . . . 
Value of their major product, ce- 
L real crops ($000,000) .... 




The workers in industry lost, for their wages went up by 
only 70.6 per cent ("only", because almost the same quantity 


of cereals, 101.7 per cent of the old quantity, is now 179.8 
per cent of the old price!), while the number of workers in- 
creased all of 40 per cent. 

The small farmers gained, in their capacity of petty 
landowners, at the expense of the proletariat. The number 
of small farmers increased by only 10.9 per cent (even if the 
small commercial farms are singled out, the increase is still 
only 11.9 per cent), and while the quantity of their product 
hardly increased at all (+1.7 per cent), its value went up 
79.8 per cent. 

Naturally, commercial and finance capital took the 
lion's share of this ground-rent, but the class status of the 
small farmer and the wage-earner, vis-a-vis each other, is 
entirely akin to the status of petty bourgeois and proletarian. 

The numerical growth of wage-earners outstrips the growth 
of population (+40 per cent for the former as against +21 per 
cent for the latter). There is growing expropriation of the 
petty producers and small farmers. There is growing prole- 
tarisation of the population.* 

The increase in the number of farmers — and to an even 
greater extent, as we already know, in the number of proprie- 
tors among them — lags behind the growth of the population 
(10.9 per cent, as against 21 per cent). The small farmers are 
increasingly converted into monopolists, into petty landed 

Let us now take a look at the relationship between small- 
scale and large-scale production in industry and in agricul- 
ture. In respect of industry the figures are not for 1900 
and 1910, but for 1904 and 1910. 

Industrial enterprises are divided into three main groups 
depending on the value of their products, the small being 
those with an output of less than $20,000; the medium, from 
$20,000 to $100,000, and the large $100,000 and over. 
We have no way of grouping agricultural enterprises except 
by acreage. Accordingly, small farms are those up to 100 
acres; medium, from 100 to 175; and large, 175 and 

* The number of wage-earners in agriculture, or rather the growth 
in their number, is obtained from the following ratio: 82.3:70.6 = 
= X:40.4, hence X=47.1. 






Number of enterprises 




per cent 


per cent 

(per cent) 

Small .... 






Medium . 






Large .... 






TotaZ . . . 






Small. . . . 






Medium . . . 






Large .... 






Total . . . 






The uniformity of evolution proves to be remarkable. 

Both in industry and agriculture the proportion of medium 
establishments is reduced, for their number grows more 
slowly than that of the small and large enterprises. 

Both in industry and agriculture the small enterprises in- 
crease in number at a slower rate than the large. 

What are the changes in the economic strength or economic 
role of the various types of enterprises? For the industrial 
enterprises we have the returns on the value of their products, 
and for the agricultural, on the total value of all farm 








per cent 


per cent 

(per cent) 

Small. . . . 






Medium . . . 






Large .... 






Total . . . 

. 14,793 





Small. . . . 






Medium . . . 






Large .... 






Total . . . 

. 20,440 





g < 


Once again the uniformity of evolution is remarkable. 

Both in industry and agriculture the relative number of, 
small and medium enterprises is decreasing, and only 
the relative number of the large enterprises is increas- 

In other words, the displacement of small-scale by large- 
scale production is under way both in industry and in agri- 


The difference between industry and agriculture in 
this case is that the proportion of small enterprises in industry 
increased somewhat more than the proportion of medium 
enterprises (+21.5 per cent, as against +19.5 per cent), 
while the reverse was true for agriculture. Of course, this 
difference is not great, and no general conclusions can be 
drawn from it. But the fact remains that in the world's 
leading capitalist country small-scale production in industry 
gained more ground in the last decade than medium-scale 
production, whereas the reverse was true for agriculture. 
This fact shows how little importance is to be attached to 
the current assertions of bourgeois economists that the law 
of the displacement of small-scale by large-scale production 
is confirmed, unconditionally and without any exception, 
by industry, and refuted by agriculture. 

In the agriculture of the U.S.A. the displacement of small- 
scale by large-scale production is not merely under way, but 
is proceeding with greater uniformity than in industry. 

In considering this, the fact demonstrated above should 
not be forgotten, namely, that the grouping of farms by 
acreage understates the process of displacement of small-scale 
by large-scale production. 

As for the degree of concentration already achieved, agri- 
culture is very far behind. In industry, more than eight- 
tenths of all production is in the hands of the large enter- 
prises that constitute only 11 per cent of the total number. 
The role of the small enterprises is insignificant: two-thirds 
of the total number of enterprises account for only 5.5 per 
cent of the total production! By comparison, agriculture 
is still in a state of dispersion: small enterprises, comprising 
58 per cent of the total number, account for one-quarter of 
the total value of all farm property; while 18 per cent large 
enterprises account for less than one-half (47 per cent). 
The total number of agricultural enterprises is over 20 times 
greater than the number in industry. 

This confirms the old conclusion — if the evolution of 
agriculture is compared with that of industry, capitalism 
in agriculture is at a stage more akin to the manufactory 
stage than to the stage of large-scale machine industry. 
Manual labour still prevails in agriculture, and the use of 
machinery is relatively very limited. But the data given 



above do not in any way prove the impossibility of socialis- 
ing agricultural production, even at the present stage of 
its development. Those who control the banks directly con- 
trol one-third of America's farms, and indirectly dominate 
the lot. In view of the modern development of associations 
of every kind and of communications and transport, it is 
undoubtedly possible to organise production under a single 
general plan on a million farms raising more than one-half 
the total value of the product. 


The agricultural censuses taken in the United States in 
1900 and 1910 are the last word in social statistics in this 
sphere of the economy. It is the best material of any avail- 
able in the advanced countries, covering millions of farms 
and allowing precise well-founded conclusions on the evolu- 
tion of agriculture under capitalism. One other particular 
reason why this material can be used to study the laws of 
the evolution is that the U.S.A. has the largest size, the great- 
est diversity of relationships, and the greatest range of 
nuances and forms of capitalist agriculture. 

We find here, on the one hand, a transition from the 
slave-holding — or what is in this case the same, from the 
feudal — structure of agriculture to commercial and capital- 
ist agriculture; and, on the other hand, capitalism develop- 
ing with unusual breadth and speed in the freest and most 
advanced bourgeois country. We observe alongside of this 
remarkably extensive colonisation conducted on democratic- 
capitalist lines. 

We find here areas which have long been settled, highly 
industrialised, highly intensive, and similar to most of the 
areas of civilised, old-capitalist Western Europe; as well 
as areas of primitive, extensive cropping and stock-raising, 
like some of the outlying areas of Russia or parts of Siberia. 
We find large and small farms of the most diverse types: 
great latifundia, plantations of the former slave-holding 
South, and the homestead West, and the highly capitalist 
North of the Atlantic seaboard; the small farms of the Negro 
share-croppers, and the small capitalist farms producing 
milk and vegetables for the market in the industrial North 


or fruits on the Pacific coast; "wheat factories" employing 
hired labour and the homesteads of "independent" small 
farmers, still full of nai've illusions about living by the 
"labour of their own hands". 

This is a remarkable diversity of relationships, embracing 
both past and future, Europe and Russia. The comparison 
with Russia is especially instructive, by the way, in 
regard to the question of the consequences of a pos- 
sible transfer of all land to the peasants without compen- 
sation, a measure that is progressive but undoubtedly capi- 

The U.S.A. offers the most convenient example for the 
study of the general laws of capitalist development in agri- 
culture and the variety of forms these laws assume. A study 
of this kind leads up to conclusions which may be summed up 
in the following brief propositions. 

In agriculture, as compared with industry, manual labour 
predominates over machinery to an immeasurably greater 
extent. But the machine is steadily advancing, improving 
farming techniques, extending the scale of operations and 
making them more capitalist. In modern agriculture, machin- 
ery is used in the capitalist way. 

Hired labour is the chief sign and indicator of capitalism 
in agriculture. The development of hired labour, like the 
growing use of machinery, is evident in all parts of the coun- 
try, and in every branch of agriculture. The growth in the 
number of hired labourers outstrips the growth of the coun- 
try's rural and total population. The growth in the number of 
farmers lags behind that of the rural population. Class con- 
tradictions are intensified and sharpened. 

The displacement of small-scale by large-scale production 
in agriculture is going forward. This is fully proved by a com- 
parison of the returns for 1900 and 1910 on total farm 

However, this displacement is understated, and the con- 
dition of the small farmers is shown in bright colours because 
statisticians in America in 1910 confined themselves — as in 
fact they did almost everywhere in Europe — to grouping 
the farms by acreage. The wider and faster the intensifica- 
tion of agriculture, the higher is the degree of this under- 
statement and the brighter the colours. 



Capitalism grows not only by accelerating the development 
of large-acreage farms in extensive areas, but also by creating 
in the intensive areas enterprises on smaller tracts whose 
operations are on a much larger scale and are much more 

As a result, the concentration of production in the large 
enterprises is actually much greater — and the displacement 
of small-scale production actually goes farther and deeper — 
than is indicated by ordinary data about farms grouped by 
acreage. The returns of the 1900 Census, compiled with great- 
er care and in greater detail, are more scientific and leave 
no doubt at all on this score. 

The expropriation of small-scale agriculture is advancing. 
In the last few decades, the proportion of owners to the 
total number of farmers declined steadily, while the growth 
in the number of farmers lagged behind population increase. 
The number of full owners is declining absolutely in the 
North, the most important section, which yields the largest 
volume of farm products and has neither any vestiges 
of slavery nor any extensive homesteading. In the last 
decade, the proportion of farmers reporting livestock in gen- 
eral decreased; in contrast to the increased proportion of 
owners reporting dairy cattle there was an even greater 
increase in the proportion of operators without horses, 
especially among the small farmers. 

On the whole, a comparison of corresponding data on 
industry and agriculture for the same period shows that al- 
though the latter is incomparably more backward, there is 
a remarkable similarity in the laws of evolution, and that 
small-scale production is being ousted from both. 



There is no need for any special explanation to show that 
the subject dealt with in Bukharin's paper is topical and 
important. The question of imperialism is not only one of 
the most essential but is probably the most essential question 
in that sphere of economic science which traces the 
change in the forms of capitalism in modern times. Anyone 
interested not only in economics but in any aspect of con- 
temporary social life must certainly acquaint himself with 
the facts pertaining to this sphere which the author has col- 
lected in such abundance from the latest material. It goes 
without saying that there can be no concrete historical 
assessment of the current war, unless it is based on a thor- 
ough analysis of the nature of imperialism, both in its eco- 
nomic and political aspects. Otherwise, it would be impos- 
sible to arrive at a correct understanding of the economic 
and diplomatic history of the last few decades without which 
it would be ridiculous to expect to work out a correct view 
of the war. From the standpoint of Marxism, which states 
most definitely the requirements of modern science on this 
question in general, one can merely smile at the "scientific" 
value of such methods as taking the concrete historical 
assessment of the war to mean a random selection of facts 
which the ruling classes of the country find gratifying or 
convenient, facts taken at random from diplomatic "docu- 
ments", current political developments, etc. Plekhanov, for 
instance, must have completely parted with Marxism to sub- 
stitute the angling after a couple of little facts which delight- 
ed Purishkevich as much as Milyukov, for an analysis of the 
essential properties and tendencies of imperialism, as the 
system of economic relations of modern highly developed, 
mature and rotten-ripe capitalism. The scientific concept of 
imperialism, moreover, is reduced to a sort of term of abuse 
applied to the immediate competitors, rivals and opponents 



of the two imperialists mentioned, each of whom holds exactly 
the same class position as his rivals and opponents! This 
is not at all surprising in this day of words forgotten, prin- 
ciples lost, philosophies overthrown, and resolutions and 
solemn promises discarded. 

N. I. Bukharin's paper has especially high scientific value 
because he examines the main facts of the world economy 
relating to imperialism as a whole, as a definite stage of 
development of the most highly developed capitalism. 
There was an epoch of relatively "peaceful" capitalism, when 
it had completely defeated feudalism in the leading European 
countries and was free to develop with the utmost — relative — 
tranquillity and smoothness, expanding "peacefully" over 
the vast expanses of the as yet unsettled lands and the coun- 
tries not yet irrevocably drawn into the capitalist maelstrom. 
Of course, even in that period, roughly between 1871 and 
1914, "peaceful" capitalism created conditions of life that 
were a very far cry from actual "peace", both in the military 
and the class sense. For nine-tenths of the population of the 
leading countries, for hundreds of millions in the colonies 
and backward countries, that epoch was not one of "peace" 
but of oppression, suffering and horror, which was the more 
terrible, possibly, for appearing to be a "horror without end". 
This epoch is gone for good, it has given way to an epoch 
which is relatively much more violent, spasmodic, disastrous 
and conflicting, an epoch which for the mass of the popula- 
tion is typified not so much by a "horror without end" as 
by a "horrible end". 

In all this it is extremely important to bear in mind 
that this change has been brought about in no other way but 
the immediate development, expansion and continuation of 
the most profound and basic trends in capitalism and in com- 
modity production in general. These main trends, which have 
been in evidence all over the world for centuries, are the 
growth of exchange and the growth of large-scale produc- 
tion. At a definite stage in the development of exchange, at 
a definite stage in the growth of large-scale production, 
namely, at the stage which was attained towards the turn of 
the century, exchange so internationalised economic rela- 
tions and capital, and large-scale production assumed such 
proportions that monopoly began to replace free competition. 



Monopoly associations of entrepreneurs, trusts, instead of 
enterprises, "freely" competing with each other — at home and 
in relations between the countries — became typical. Finance 
capital took over as the typical "lord" of the world; it is par- 
ticularly mobile and flexible, particularly interknit at home 
and internationally, and particularly impersonal and divorced 
from production proper; it lends itself to concentration 
with particular ease, and has been concentrated to an unusual 
degree already, so that literally a few hundred multimillion- 
aires and millionaires control the destiny of the world. 

Abstract theoretical reasoning may lead to the conclusion 
at which Kautsky has arrived — in a somewhat different 
fashion but also by abandoning Marxism — namely, that the 
time is not too far off when these magnates of capital will 
unite on a world scale in a single world trust, substituting 
an internationally united finance capital for the competi- 
tion and struggle between sums of finance capital nationally 
isolated. This conclusion is, however, just as abstract, sim- 
plified and incorrect as the similar conclusion drawn by our 
Struvists and Economists of the nineties, when they drew 
conclusions from the progressive nature of capitalism, its 
inevitability and its final victory in Russia that ranged from 
the apologetic (admiration for capitalism, reconciliation 
with it, and glorification instead of struggle), and the apolit- 
ical (that is, a denial of politics or a denial of the importance 
of politics, the probability of general political upheavals, 
etc., a mistake specifically Economist), to the outrightly 
"strike-ist" (the "general strike", as the apotheosis of the 
strike movement, brought up to a point where other forms of 
movement are forgotten or ignored and capitalism is over- 
come solely by a "leap" from it to a strike, pure and simple). 
There is evidence that even today the indisputable fact that 
capitalism is progressive, when compared with the semi-phi- 
listine "paradise" of free competition, and that imperialism 
and its final victory over "peaceful" capitalism in the leading 
countries of the world are inevitable — that this fact is still 
capable of producing an equally great and varied number of 
political and apolitical mistakes and misadventures. 

With Kautsky, in particular, his clear break with Marx- 
ism has not taken the form of a denial or neglect of politics, 
or of a "leap" over the political conflicts, upheavals and 



transformations, so numerous and varied in the imperialist 
epoch; it has not taken the form of an apology of imperialism 
but of a dream of "peaceful" capitalism. That "peaceful" 
capitalism has given way to non-peaceful, aggressive, cata- 
clysmic imperialism Kautsky is forced to admit, because that 
is something he had admitted as far back as 1909 in the 
paper 6 in which he last produced some integrated conclusions 
as a Marxist. But if it is impossible to toy in rude, simple 
fashion with the dream of a straightforward retreat from 
imperialism to "peaceful" capitalism, why not let these dreams, 
which are essentially petty-bourgeois, take the form of 
innocent speculation on "peaceful" "ultra-imperialism"? If the 
international integration of national (rather nationally iso- 
lated) imperialisms is to be called ultra-imperialism, which 
"could" remove the conflicts, such as wars, political upheav- 
als, etc., which the petty bourgeois finds especially unpal- 
atable, disquieting, and alarming, why not, in that case, 
make an escape from the present highly conflicting and cata- 
clysmic epoch of imperialism, which is the here and now, by 
means of innocent dreams of an "ultra-imperialism" which is 
relatively peaceful, relatively lacking in conflict and relative- 
ly uncataclysmic? Why not try to escape the acute prob- 
lems that have been and are being posed by the epoch of im- 
perialism that has dawned for Europe by dreaming up the 
possibility of it soon passing away and being followed by a 
relatively "peaceful" epoch of "ultra-imperialism" that will 
not require any "abrupt" tactics? Kautsky says precisely that 
"such a [ultra-imperialist] new phase of capitalism is at 
any rate imaginable", but that "there are not yet enough 
prerequisites to decide whether or not it is feasible" {Die 
Neue Zeit, 1 April 30, 1915, p. 144). 

There is not a whit of Marxism in this urge to ignore the 
imperialism which is here and to escape into the realm of an 
"ultra-imperialism" which may or may not arrive. In this 
formulation, Marxism is recognised in that "new phase 
of capitalism" which its inventor himself does not warrant 
can be realised, while in the present stage (which is already 
here) the petty-bourgeois and profoundly reactionary desire 
to blunt the contradictions is substituted for Marxism. 
Kautsky swore to be a Marxist in this coming, acute and cata- 
clysmic epoch, which he was forced to predict and recognise 



very definitely in his 1909 paper on this coming epoch. Now 
that this epoch has most definitely arrived, Kautsky once 
again swears to be a Marxist in the coming epoch of ultra- 
imperialism, which may or may not arrive! In short, any 
number of promises to be a Marxist in another epoch, not 
now, not under present conditions, not in this epoch! 
Marxism on credit, Marxism in promises, Marxism tomorrow, 
a petty-bourgeois, opportunist theory — and not only a theory 
— of blunting contradictions today. This is something like 
the internationalism for export which is very popular today 
with ardent — oh, so ardent! — internationalists and Marxists 
who sympathise with every manifestation of international- 
ism — in the enemy camp, anywhere, but not at home, not 
among their allies; they sympathise with democracy — when 
it remains an "allied" promise; they sympathise with "the 
self-determination of nations", but only not of those depend- 
ent on the nation which has the honour of having the sym- 
pathiser among its citizens. In a word, it is one of the 1,001 
varieties of hypocrisy. 

Can it be denied, however, that a new phase of capitalism 
is "imaginable" in the abstract after imperialism, namely, 
ultra-imperialism? No, it cannot. Such a phase can be imag- 
ined. But in practice this means becoming an opportunist, 
turning away from the acute problems of the day to dream of 
the unacute problems of the future. In theory this means 
refusing to be guided by actual developments, forsaking them 
arbitrarily for such dreams. There is no doubt that the trend 
of development is towards a single world trust absorbing all 
enterprises without exception and all states without excep- 
tion. But this development proceeds in such circumstances, 
at such a pace, through such contradictions, conflicts and 
upheavals — not only economic but political, national, etc. — 
that inevitably imperialism will burst and capitalism will 
be transformed into its opposite long before one world trust 
materialises, before the "ultra-imperialist", world-wide 
amalgamation of national finance capitals takes place. 

V. Ilyin 

December 1915 

First published in Pravda No. 17, 
January 21, 1927 

Published according to 
the manuscript 




Has the Second International really ceased to exist? 
This is being stubbornly denied by its most authoritative 
representatives, like Kautsky and Vandervelde. Their point 
of view is that, save for the rupture of relations, nothing 
has really happened; all is quite well. 

To get at the truth of the matter, let us turn to the Mani- 
festo of the Basle Congress of 1912, which applies particu- 
larly to the present imperialist world war and which was 
accepted by all the socialist parties of the world. No social- 
ist, be it noted, will dare in theory deny the necessity of 
making a concrete, historical appraisal of every war. 

Now that war has broken out, neither the avowed oppor- 
tunists nor the Kautskyites dare repudiate the Basle Mani- 
festo or compare its demands with the conduct of the social- 
ist parties during the war. Why? Because the Manifesto 
completely exposes both. 

There is not a single word in the Basle Manifesto about 
the defence of the fatherland, or about the difference 
between a war of aggression and a war of defence; there is 
nothing in it at all about what the opportunists and Kautsky- 
ites* of Germany and of the Quadruple Alliance 9 at all 
crossroads are now dinning into the ears of the world. Nor 
could it have said anything of the sort, because what it 
does say absolutely rules out the use of such concepts. It 
makes a highly concrete reference to the series of political 

* This does not refer to the personalities of Kautsky's followers 
in Germany, but to the international type of pseudo-Marxist who 
vacillates between opportunism and radicalism, but is in reality only 
a fig-leaf for opportunism. 


and economic conflicts which had for decades been preparing 
the ground for the present war, and which had become quite 
apparent in 1912, and which brought about the war in 1914. 
The Manifesto recalls the Russo-Austrian conflict for 
"hegemony in the Balkans"; the conflicts between Britain, 
France and Germany (between all these countries!) over 
their "policy of conquest in Asia Minor"; the Austro-Italian 
conflict over the "striving for domination" in Albania, etc. 
In short, the Manifesto defines all these as conflicts emanating 
from "capitalist imperialism". Thus, the Manifesto very 
clearly recognises the predatory, imperialist, reactionary, 
slave-driving character of the present war, i.e., a character 
which makes the idea of defending the fatherland theoretical 
nonsense and a practical absurdity. The big sharks are 
fighting each other to gobble up other peoples' "fatherlands". 
The Manifesto draws the inevitable conclusions from undis- 
puted historical facts: the war "cannot be justified on the 
slightest pretext of its being in the interest of the people"; 
it is being prepared "for the sake of the capitalists' profits 
and the ambitions of dynasties". It would be a "crime" for 
the workers to "shoot each other down". That is what the 
Manifesto says. 

The epoch of capitalist imperialism is one of ripe and 
rotten-ripe capitalism, which is about to collapse, and which 
is mature enough to make way for socialism. The period 
between 1789 and 1871 was one of progressive capitalism, 
when the overthrow of feudalism and absolutism, and 
liberation from the foreign yoke were on history's agenda. 
"Defence of the fatherland", i.e., defence against oppres- 
sion, was permissible on these grounds, and on these alone. 
The term would be applicable even now in a war against the 
imperialist Great Powers, but it would be absurd to apply 
it to a war between the imperialist Great Powers, a war to 
decide who gets the biggest piece of the Balkan countries, 
Asia Minor, etc. It is not surprising, therefore, that the 
"socialists" who advocate "defence of the fatherland" in 
the present war shun the Basle Manifesto as a thief shuns 
the scene of his crime. For the Manifesto proves them to be 
social-chauvinists, i.e., socialists in words, but chauvin- 
ists in deeds, who are helping "their own" bourgeoisie to 
rob other countries and enslave other nations. That is the 



very substance of chauvinism — to defend one's "own" 
fatherland even when its acts are aimed at enslaving other 
peoples' fatherlands. 

Recognition that a war is being fought for national 
liberation implies one set of tactics; its recognition as an 
imperialist war, another. The Manifesto clearly points to 
the latter. The war, it says, "will bring on an economic and 
political crisis", which must be "utilised", not to lessen the 
crisis, not to defend the fatherland, but, on the contrary, to 
"rowse" the masses and "hasten the downfall of capitalist 
rule". It is impossible to hasten something for which histor- 
ical conditions are not yet mature. The Manifesto declares 
that social revolution is possible, that the conditions for it 
have matured, and that it will break out precisely in connec- 
tion with war. Referring to the examples of the Paris 
Commune and the Revolution of 1905 in Russia, i.e., examples 
of mass strikes and of civil war, the Manifesto declares that 
"the ruling classes" fear "a proletarian revolution". It is 
sheer falsehood to claim, as Kautsky does, that the socialist 
attitude to the present war has not been defined. This ques- 
tion was not merely discussed, but decided in Basle, where 
the tactics of revolutionary proletarian mass struggle were 

It is downright hypocrisy to ignore the Basle Manifesto 
altogether, or in its most essential parts, and to quote 
instead the speeches of leaders, or the resolutions of various 
parties, which, in the first place, antedate the Basle Con- 
gress, secondly, were not decisions adopted by the parties 
of the whole world, and thirdly, applied to various possible 
wars, but never to the present war. The point is that the epoch 
of national wars between the big European powers has been 
superseded by an epoch of imperialist wars between them, 
and that the Basle Manifesto had to recognise this fact offi- 
cially for the first time. 

It would be a mistake to regard the Basle Manifesto 
as an empty threat, a collection of platitudes, as so much 
hot air. Those whom the Manifesto exposes would like to 
have it that way. But it is not true. The Manifesto is but 
the fruit of the great propaganda work carried on throughout 
the entire epoch of the Second International; it is but the 
summary of all that the socialists had disseminated among 


the masses in the hundreds of thousands of speeches, 
articles and manifestos in all languages. It merely reiterates 
what Jules Guesde, for example, wrote in 1899, when he 
castigated socialist ministerialism in the event of war: he 
wrote of war provoked by the "capitalist pirates" (En Garde!, 
p. 175); it merely repeats what Kautsky wrote in 1909 in 
his Road to Power, where he admitted that the "peaceful" 
epoch was over and that the epoch of wars and revolutions 
was on. To represent the Basle Manifesto as so much talk, 
or as a mistake, is to regard as mere talk, or as a mistake, 
everything the socialists have done in the last twenty-five 
years. The opportunists and the Kautskyites find the con- 
tradiction between the Manifesto and its non-application so 
intolerable because it lays bare the profound contradictions 
in the work of the Second International. The relatively 
"peaceful" character of the period between 1871 and 1914 
served to foster opportunism first as a mood, then as a trend, 
until finally it formed a group or stratum among the labour 
bureaucracy and petty-bourgeois fellow-travellers. These 
elements were able to gain control of the labour movement 
only by paying lip-service to revolutionary aims and revo- 
lutionary tactics. They were able to win the confidence of 
the masses only by their protestations that all this "peace- 
ful" work served to prepare the proletarian revolution. This 
contradiction was a boil which just had to burst, and burst 
it has. Here is the question: is it worth trying, as Kautsky 
and Co. are doing, to force the pus back into the body for 
the sake of "unity" (with the pus), or should the pus be 
removed as quickly and as thoroughly as possible, regardless 
of the pang of pain caused by the process, to help bring about 
the complete recovery of the body of the labour movement. 

Those who voted for war credits, entered cabinets and 
advocated defence of the fatherland in 1914-15 have patently 
betrayed socialism. Only hypocrites will deny it. This 
betrayal must be explained. 


It would be absurd to regard the whole question as one 
of personalities. What has opportunism to do with it when 
men like Plekhanov and Guesde, etc.? — asks Kautsky (Die 
Neue Zeit, May 28, 1915). What has opportunism to do with 



it when Kautsky, etc.? — replies Axelrod on behalf of the 
opportunists of the Quadruple Alliance (Die Krise der Sozi- 
aldemokratie , Zurich, 1915, p. 21). This is a complete farce. 
If the crisis of the whole movement is to be explained, an 
examination must be made, firstly, of the economic signifi- 
cance of the present policy; secondly, its underlying ideas; 
and thirdly, its connection with the history of the various 
trends in the socialist movement. 

What is the economic substance of defencism in the war 
of 1914-15? The bourgeoisie of all the big powers are waging 
the war to divide and exploit the world, and oppress other 
nations. A few crumbs of the bourgeoisie's huge profits may 
come the way of the small group of labour bureaucrats, 
labour aristocrats, and petty-bourgeois fellow-travellers. 
Social-chauvinism and opportunism have the same class 
basis, namely, the alliance of a small section of privileged 
workers with "their" national bourgeoisie against the 
working-class masses; the alliance between the lackeys of the 
bourgeoisie and the bourgeoisie against the class the latter 
is exploiting. 

Opportunism and social-chauvinism have the same polit- 
ical content, namely, class collaboration, repudiation of 
the dictatorship of the proletariat, repudiation of revolu- 
tionary action, unconditional acceptance of bourgeois 
legality, confidence in the bourgeoisie and lack of confidence 
in the proletariat. Social-chauvinism is the direct continuation 
and consummation of British liberal-labour politics, of 
Millerandism and Bernsteinism . 10 

The struggle between the two main trends in the labour 
movement — revolutionary socialism and opportunist social- 
ism — fills the entire period from 1889 to 1914. Even today 
there are two main trends on the attitude to war in every 
country. Let us drop the bourgeois and opportunist habit 
of referring to personalities. Let us take the trends in a 
number of countries. Let us take ten European countries: 
Germany, Britain, Russia, Italy, Holland, Sweden, Bul- 
garia, Switzerland, Belgium and France. In the first eight 
the division into opportunist and revolutionary trends cor- 
responds to the division into social-chauvinists and interna- 
tionalists. In Germany the strongholds of social-chauvinism 
are Socialistische Monatshefte 11 and Legien and Co., in 


Britain the Fabians 12 and the Labour Party 13 (the I.L.P. 14 
has always been allied with them and has supported their 
organ, and in this bloc it has always been weaker than the 
social-chauvinists, whereas three-sevenths of the B.S.P. 15 
are internationalists); in Russia this trend is represented by 
Nasha Zarya 16 (now Nashe Dyelo), by the Organising Com- 
mittee, 17 and by the Duma group led by Chkheidze; in 
Italy it is represented by the reformists with Bissolati at 
their head; in Holland, by Troelstra's party; in Sweden, 
by the majority of the Party led by Branting; in Bulgaria, 
by the so-called "Shiroki" 18 socialists; in Switzerland by 
Greulich and Co. In all these countries it is the revolutionary 
Social-Democrats who have voiced a more or less vigorous 
protest against social chauvinism. France and Belgium are 
the two exceptions; there internationalism also exists, but 
is very weak. 

Social-chauvinism is opportunism in its finished form. 
It is quite ripe for an open, frequently vulgar, alliance 
with the bourgeoisie and the general staffs. It is this alliance 
that gives it great power and a monopoly of the legal press 
and of deceiving the masses. It is absurd to go on regarding 
opportunism as an inner-party phenomenon. It is ridiculous 
to think of carrying out the Basle resolution together with 
David, Legien, Hyndman, Plekhanov and Webb. Unity 
with the social-chauvinists means unity with one's "own" 
national bourgeoisie, which exploits other nations; it means 
splitting the international proletariat. This does not mean 
that an immediate break with the opportunists is possible 
everywhere; it means only that historically this break is 
imminent; that it is necessary and inevitable for the revolu- 
tionary struggle of the proletariat; that history, which has 
led us from "peaceful" capitalism to imperialist capitalism, 
has paved the way for this break. Volentem ducunt fata, 
nolentem trahunt* 


This is very well understood by the shrewd representatives 
of the bourgeoisie. That is why they are so lavish in their 
praise of the present socialist parties, headed by the "de- 

The fates lead the willing, drag the unwilling. — Ed. 



fenders of the fatherland", i.e., the defenders of imperialist 
plunder. That is why the social-chauvinist leaders are re- 
warded by their governments either with ministerial posts 
(in France and Britain), or with a monopoly of unhindered 
legal existence (in Germany and Russia). That is why in 
Germany, where the Social-Democratic Party was strongest 
and where its transformation into a national-liberal counter- 
revolutionary labour party has been most obvious, things 
have got to the stage where the public prosecutor qualifies 
the struggle between the "minority" and the "majority" as 
"incitement to class hatred"! That is why the greatest concern 
of the clever opportunists is to retain the former "unity" 
of the old parties, which did the bourgeoisie so many good 
turns in 1914 and 1915. The views held by these opportun- 
ists in all countries of the world were expounded with 
commendable frankness by a German Social-Democrat in 
an article signed "Monitor" which appeared in April 1915, 
in the reactionary magazine Preussische Jahrbiicher. 19 
Monitor thinks that it would be very dangerous for the bour- 
geoisie if the Social-Democrats were to move still further 
to the right. "It must preserve its character as a labour party 
with socialist ideals; for the day it gives this up a new party 
will arise and adopt the programme the old party had dis- 
avowed, giving it a still more radical formulation" (Preus- 
sische Jahrbiicher, 1915, No. 4, pp. 50-51). 

Monitor hit the nail on the head. That is just what the 
British Liberals and the French Radicals have always 
wanted — phrases with a revolutionary ring to deceive the 
masses and induce them to place their trust in the Lloyd 
Georges, the Sembats, the Renaudels, the Legiens, and the 
Kautskys, in the men capable of preaching "defence of the 
fatherland" in a predatory war. 

But Monitor represents only one variety of opportunism, 
the frank, crude, cynical variety. Others act with stealth, 
subtlety, and "honesty". Engels once said that for the work- 
ing class "honest" opportunists were the greatest danger. 20 
Here is one example. 

Kautsky wrote in Die Neue Zeit (November 26, 1915) as fol- 
lows: "The opposition against the majority is growing; 

the masses are in an opposition mood After the war 

[only after the war? — N. L.] class antagonisms will become 


so sharp that radicalism will gain the upper hand among 
the masses.... After the war [only after the war? — N. L.] 
we shall be menaced with the desertion of the radical ele- 
ments from the Party and their influx into the party of 
anti-parliamentary [?? meaning extra-parliamentary] mass 

action Thus, our Party is splitting up into two extreme 

camps which have nothing in common." To preserve unity, 
Kautsky tries to persuade the majority in the Reichstag to 
allow the minority to make a few radical parliamentary 
speeches. That means Kautsky wants to use a few radical 
parliamentary speeches to reconcile the revolutionary masses 
with the opportunists, who have "nothing in common" with 
revolution, who have long had the leadership of the trade 
unions, and now, relying on their close alliance with the 
bourgeoisie and the government, have also captured the 
leadership of the Party. What essential difference is there 
between this and Monitor's "programme"? There is none, 
save for the sugary phrases which prostitute Marxism. 

At a meeting of the Reichstag group on March 18, 1915, 
Wurm, a Kautskyite, "warned" against "pulling the strings 
too taut. There is growing opposition among the workers' 
masses to the majority of the group, we must keep to the 
Marxist [?! probably a misprint: this should read "the Moni- 
tor"] Centre" (Klassenkampf gegen den Kriegl Material zum 
Fall Liebknecht. Als Manuskript gedruckt,* p. 67). Thus 
we find that the revolutionary sentiment of the masses 
was admitted as a fact on behalf of all the Kautskyites (the 
so-called Centre) as early as March, 1915V. But eight and 
a half months later, Kautsky again comes forward with the 
proposal to "reconcile" the militant masses with the oppor- 
tunist, counter-revolutionary party — and he wants to do 
this with a few revolutionary-sounding phrases!! 

War is often useful in exposing what is rotten and discard- 
ing the conventionalities. 

Let us compare the British Fabians with the German 
Kautskyites. Here is what a real Marxist, Frederick Engels, 
wrote about the former on January 18, 1893: "...a band of 
careerists who have understanding enough to realise the inevi- 

* The Class Struggle Against the War. Material on the Liebknecht 
Case. Printed for private circulation only. — Ed. 



tability of the social revolution, but who could not possibly 
entrust this gigantic task to the raw proletariat alone.... 
Fear of the revolution is their fundamental principle" 
(Letters to Sorge, p. 390). 21 

And on November 11, 1893, he wrote: "...these haughty 
bourgeois who kindly condescend to emancipate the prole- 
tariat from above if only it would have sense enough to 
realise that such a raw, uneducated mass cannot liberate 
itself and can achieve nothing without the kindness of these 
clever lawyers, writers and sentimental old women" (ibid., 
p. 401). 22 

In theory Kautsky looks down upon the Fabians with the 
contempt of a Pharisee for a poor sinner, for he swears by 
"Marxism". But what actual difference is there between the 
two. Both signed the Basle Manifesto, and both treated it 
as Wilhelm II treated Belgian neutrality. But Marx all his 
life castigated those who strove to quench the revolutionary 
spirit of the workers. 

Kautsky has put forward his new theory of '"ultra-impe- 
rialism" in opposition to the revolutionary Marxists. By 
this he means that the "rivalries of national finance cap- 
itals" are to be superseded by the "joint exploitation of the 
world by international finance capital" (Die Neue Zeit, 
April 30, 1915). But he adds: "We do not as yet have suf- 
ficient data to decide whether this new phase of capitalism 
is possible." On the grounds of the mere assumption of a 
"new phase", which he does not even dare declare definitely 
"possible", the inventor of this "phase" rejects his own revo- 
lutionary declarations as well as the revolutionary tasks 
and revolutionary tactics of the proletariat — rejects them 
now , in the "phase" of a crisis, which has already broken out, 
the phase of war and the unprecedented aggravation of class 
antagonisms! Is this not Fabianism at its most abominable? 

Axelrod, the leader of the Russian Kautskyites, says, 
"The centre of gravity of the problem of internationalising 
the proletarian movement for emancipation is the interna- 
tionalisation of everyday practice"; for example, "labour 
protection and insurance legislation must become the object 
of the workers' international organisation and action" 
(Axelrod, The Crisis of Social-Democracy, Zurich, 1915, 
pp. 39 40). Not only Legien, David and the Webbs, but even 


Lloyd George himself, and Naumann, Briand and Milyukov 
would quite obviously subscribe to such "internationalism". 
As in 1912, Axelrod is quite prepared to utter the most 
revolutionary phrases for the very distant future, if the 
future International "comes out [against the governments 
in the event of war] and raises a revolutionary storm". 
How brave we are! But when it comes to supporting and de- 
veloping the incipient revolutionary ferment among the 
masses now , Axelrod says that these tactics of revolutionary 
mass action "would be justified to some extent if we were 
on the very eve of the social revolution, as was the case 
in Russia, for example, where the student demonstrations of 
1901 heralded the approaching decisive battles against 
absolutism". At the present moment, however, all that is 
"utopia", "Bakuninism", etc. This is fully in the spirit of 
Kolb, David, Siidekum and Legien. 

What dear old Axelrod forgets is that in 1901 nobody in 
Russia knew, or could have known, that the first "decisive 
battle" would take place four years later — please note, 
four years later — and that it would be "indecisive". Nev- 
ertheless, we revolutionary Marxists alone were right at that 
time: we ridiculed the Krichevskys and Martynovs, who 
called for an immediate assault. We merely advised the work- 
ers to kick out the opportunists everywhere and to exert 
every effort to support, sharpen and extend the demonstra- 
tions and other mass revolutionary action. The present 
situation in Europe is absolutely similar. It would be absurd 
to call for an "immediate" assault; but it would be a shame 
to call oneself a Social-Democrat and not to advise the work- 
ers to break with the opportunists and exert all their efforts 
to strengthen, deepen, extend and sharpen the incipient 
revolutionary movement and demonstrations. Revolution 
never falls ready-made from the skies, and when revolu- 
tionary ferment starts no one can say whether and when 
it will lead to a "real", "genuine" revolution. Kautsky and 
Axelrod are giving the workers old, shop-worn, counter- 
revolutionary advice. Kautsky and Axelrod are feeding the 
masses with hopes that the future International will surely 
be revolutionary, but they are doing this for the sole pur- 
pose of protecting, camouflaging and prettifying the present 
domination of the counter-revolutionary elements — the 



Legiens, Davids, Vanderveldes and Hyndmans. Is it not 
obvious that "unity" with Legien and Co. is the best means 
of preparing the "future" revolutionary International? 

"It would be folly to strive to convert the world war into 
civil war," declares David, the leader of the German oppor- 
tunists (Die Sozialdemokratie und der Weltkrieg, 1915, 
p. 172), in reply to the manifesto of the Central Committee 
of our Party, November 1, 1914. This manifesto says, 
inter alia: 

"However difficult such a transformation may seem at any given 
moment, socialists will never relinquish systematic, persistent and 
undeviating preparatory work in this direction now that war has 
become a fact."* 

(This passage is also quoted by David, p. 171.) A month 
before David's book appeared our Party published its 
resolutions defining a systematic preparation" as follows: 
(1) refusal to vote for credits; (2) disruption of the class 
truce; (3) formation of illegal organisations; (4) support 
for solidarity manifestations in the trenches; (5) support 
for all revolutionary mass action.** 

David is almost as brave as Axelrod. In 1912, he did 
not think that reference to the Paris Commune in anticipation 
of the war was a folly". 

Plekhanov, a typical representative of the Entente social- 
chauvinists, takes the same view of revolutionary tactics 
as David. He calls them a "farcical dream". But listen to 
Kolb, an avowed opportunist, who wrote: "The consequence 
of the tactics of Liebknecht's followers would be that the 
struggle within the German nation would be brought up to 
boiling point" (Die Sozialdemokratie am Scheidewege, p. 50). 

But what is a struggle brought up to boiling point if 
not civil war? 

If our Central Committee's tactics, which broadly coin- 
cide with those of the Zimmerwald Left, 23 were "folly", 
"dreams", "adventurism", "Bakuninism" — as David, Ple- 
khanov, Axelrod, Kautsky and others have asserted — they 

* See present edition, Vol, 21, "The War and Russian Social- 
Democracy". — Ed. 

** Ibid.; Vol 21, "The Conference of the R.S.D.L.P. Groups 
Abroad".— Ed. 


could never lead to a "struggle within a nation", let alone 
to a struggle brought up to boiling point. Nowhere in the 
world have anarchist phrases brought about a struggle with- 
in a nation. But the facts indicate that precisely in 1915, 
as a result of the crisis produced by the war, revolutionary 
ferment among the masses is on the increase, and there is 
a spread of strikes and political demonstrations in Russia, 
strikes in Italy and in Britain, and hunger demonstrations 
and political demonstrations in Germany. Are these not the 
beginnings of revolutionary mass struggles? 

The sum and substance of Social-Democracy' s practical 
programme in this war is to support, develop, extend and 
sharpen mass revolutionary action, and to set up illegal 
organisations, for without them there is no way of telling 
the truth to the masses of people even in the "free" countries. 
The rest is either lies or mere verbiage, whatever its trappings 
of opportunist or pacifist theory.* 

When we are told that these "Russian tactics" (David's 
expression) are not suitable for Europe, we usually reply 
by pointing to the facts. On October 30, a delegation of 
Berlin women comrades called on the Party's Presidium in 
Berlin, and stated that "now that we have a large organising 
apparatus it is much easier to distribute illegal pamphlets 
and leaflets and to organise 'banned meetings' than it was 

under the Anti-Socialist Law Ways and means are not 

lacking, but the will evidently is" (Berner Tagwacht, 25 
1915, No. 271). 

Had these bad comrades been led astray by the Russian 
"sectarians", etc.? Is it these comrades who represent the 
real masses, or is it Legien and Kautsky? Legien, who in 
his report on January 27, 1915, fumed against the "anarchist- 
ic" idea of forming underground organisations; or Kautsky, 

* At the International Women's Congress held in Berne in March 
1915, the representatives of the Central Committee of our Party urged 
that it was absolutely necessary to set up illegal organisations. This 
was rejected. The British women laughed at this proposal and praised 
British "liberty". But a few months later British newspapers, like 
the Labour Leader, 24 reached us with blank spaces, and then came the 
news of police raids, confiscation of pamphlets, arrests, and Draconian 
sentences imposed on comrades who had spoken in Britain about 
peace, nothing but peace! 



who has become such a counter-revolutionary that on No- 
vember 26, four days before the 10,000-strong demonstration 
in Berlin, he denounced street demonstrations as "adventu- 

We've had enough of empty talk, and of prostituted 
"Marxism" a la Kautsky! After twenty-five years of the 
Second International, after the Basle Manifesto, the workers 
will no longer believe fine words. Opportunism is rotten- 
ripe; it has been transformed into social-chauvinism and 
has definitely deserted to the bourgeois camp. It has severed 
its spiritual and political ties with Social-Democracy. It will 
also break off its organisational ties. The workers are already 
demanding "illegal" pamphlets and "banned" meetings, i.e., 
underground organisations to support the revolutionary mass 
movement. Only when "war against war" is conducted on 
these lines does it cease to be empty talk and becomes Social- 
Democratic work. In spite of all difficulties, set-backs, 
mistakes, delusions and interruptions, this work will lead 
humanity to the victorious proletarian revolution. 

Published in January 1916 
in Vorbote No. 1 
Signed: N. Lenin 

First published in Russian 
in 1929 in the second and 
third editions of Lenin's 
Collected Works, Vol. XIX 

Published according to 
the text in Vorbote 
Translated from the German 



The Bureau (I.S.C. 27 ), having conferred with a number 
of representatives of several countries, resolves: 

to convene the second conference of socialists supporting 
the Zimmerwald decisions. 


(1) struggle against war; 

(2) international unification of socialists opposing war and 

(3) practical measures of organisation, propaganda and 
struggle against governments; 

(4) development of Zimmerwald decisions. 

To set the date of its convocation for April 15, 1916. 

To publish the present decision (altering the date to March 
15 in the notice). 

To call on all socialist organisations supporting the 
Zimmerwald decisions to discuss all the items on the agenda 
and the draft resolutions. 28 The drafts (signed by 2-3 del- 
egates) to be published in Berner Tagwacht. 

Written between January 23 and 26 
(February 5 and 8), 1916 
Published for the first time 

Published according to 
the manuscript 


ON APRIL 24, 1916 


1. Only representatives of political or trade union organ- 
isations or individuals supporting the decisions of the 
Zimmerwald Conference shall be allowed to attend. 

2. From countries where official parties or trade union 
organisations are affiliated with the I.S.C., only representa- 
tives appointed by these organisations shall be allowed 
to attend. 

3. From countries where official parties or trade union 
organisations are not affiliated with the I.S.C., representa- 
tives shall be allowed to attend only from organisations 
and groups which: 

(a) in the given country campaign orally or in writing in 
the spirit of the Zimmerwald decisions; 

(b) support the I.S.C. by their activities. 

4. Individuals shall be admitted only as an exception and 
only with voice but no vote. 

5. Final decisions in disputes over the validity of creden- 
tials shall be made, after hearing the motives and taking 
account of the circumstances, by a 9-man commission 
elected by the conference, which shall include 4 members of 
the I.S.C. 

6. The conference shall establish the voting procedure. 
[Amendment, not to be published; entered in the minutes: 

Comrades who were present at Zimmerwald have the right 
("le droit" — in the French text) to participate in the second 
conference with a voice but no vote.] 

Written in German between January 23 
and 26 (February 5 and 8), 1916 

Published on February 29, 1916 Published according to 

in Bulletin, Internationale the manuscript 

Socialishsche Kommission zu Bern No. 3 Translated from the German 

Published in Russian for the first time 
in the 4th Russian edition 
of Lenin's Collected Works 


FEBRUARY 8, 1916 30 

Comrades! The European war has been raging for more 
than eighteen months. With every passing day, and month, 
it becomes clearer and clearer to the mass of the workers 
that the Zimmerwald Manifesto 31 expressed the truth when 
it declared that talk about "defence of the fatherland" and 
suchlike phrases are nothing but a capitalist fraud. It is 
becoming more evident every day that this is a war between 
capitalists, between big robbers, who are quarrelling over 
who is to get the largest slice, who is to plunder the greatest 
number of countries, and to suppress and enslave the greatest 
number of nations. 

It may sound incredible, especially to Swiss comrades, 
but it is true, nevertheless, that in Russia, too, it is not 
only murderous tsarism, or the capitalists, but also a section 
of the so-called, or former, socialists who are saying that 
Russia is fighting a "defensive war", that she is only fighting 
against the German invasion. But the whole world knows 
that for decades tsarism has been oppressing more than a 
hundred million people belonging to other nationalities 
in Russia, and that for decades Russia has been pursuing 
a predatory policy towards China, Persia, Armenia and Ga- 
licia. Neither Russia, nor Germany, nor any other Great 
Power for that matter has any right to claim that it is 
waging a "defensive war"; all the Great Powers are waging a 
capitalist imperialist war, a predatory war, a war for the op- 
pression of small and foreign nations, a war for the profits of 
the capitalists, who have been converting proletarian blood 
and the horrible sufferings of the masses into the pure gold 
of their immense fortunes. 



Four years ago, in November 1912, when it had become 
quite clear that war was in the offing, representatives of 
the socialist parties of the world met at the International 
Socialist Congress in Basle. Even at that time there was no 
room for doubt that the impending war would be a war 
between the Great Powers, between these great plunderers 
and that the responsibility would fall upon the governments 
and the capitalist class of all the Great Powers. This truth 
was openly stated in the Basle Manifesto, which was adopted 
unanimously by the socialist parties of the world. The Basle 
Manifesto says nothing at all about a "defensive war" or 
"defence of the fatherland" . It castigates the governments 
and the bourgeoisie of all the Great Powers, without excep- 
tion. It says openly that war would be the greatest of crimes, 
that the workers consider it a crime to shoot at each other, 
and that the horrors of war and the indignation these would 
rouse among the workers would inevitably lead to a pro- 
letarian revolution. 

When the war actually broke out it became evident that 
its character had been correctly defined at Basle. But the 
socialist and labour organisations were not unanimous in 
carrying out the Basle decisions; they split. We find that 
the socialist and labour organisations are now split into two 
big camps in all countries of the world. The smaller section, 
the leaders, functionaries and officials, have betrayed social- 
ism and have sided with their governments. The other 
section, to which the mass of class-conscious workers belong, 
continues to gather its forces and to fight against the war 
and for the proletarian revolution. 

The views of this latter section were expressed in the 
Zimmerwald Manifesto, to mention one document. 

In Russia, from the very beginning of the war, the work- 
ers' deputies in the Duma waged a determined revolutionary 
struggle against the war and the tsarist monarchy. Five 
workers' deputies — Petrovsky, Badayev Muranov, Shagov 
and Samoilov — distributed revolutionary leaflets against 
the war and carried on persistent revolutionary agitation. 
The tsarist government ordered the arrest of these five 
deputies; they were tried and sentenced to exile in Siberia 
for life. The leaders of the working class of Russia have lan- 
guished in Siberia for months, but their cause has not been 



defeated; their work is being continued along the same lines 
by the class-conscious workers of all Russia. 

Comrades! You have heard speakers from various countries 
who have told you about the workers' revolutionary struggle 
against the war. I merely want to add another example, that 
of the United States of America, the biggest and richest 
country. Its capitalists are now making enormous profits 
out of the European war. And they are also campaigning 
for war. They are saying that America, too, must prepare 
to enter the war, and that hundreds of millions of the people's 
dollars must be siphoned off into new armaments, into ar- 
maments without end. A section of the socialists in America 
have also responded to this false, criminal call. Let me read 
a statement by Comrade Eugene Debs, a most popular leader 
of the American socialists, and the presidential candidate 
of the American Socialist Party. 

In the September 11, 1915, issue of the American weekly, 
Appeal to Reason, 32 he says: "7 am not a capitalist soldier; 
I am a proletarian revolutionist. I do not belong to the 
regular army of the plutocracy, but to the irregular army of the 
people. I refuse to obey any command to fight from the ruling 
class.... I am opposed to every war but one; I am for that war 
with heart and soul, and that is the world-wide war of the so- 
cial revolution. In that war I am prepared to fight in any 
way the ruling class may make necessary... ." 

This is what Eugene Debs, the American Bebel, the beloved 
leader of the American workers, is telling them. 

This goes to show once again, comrades, that the rallying 
of the working class forces is truly under way in all countries 
of the world. War inflicts horrible sufferings on the people, 
but we must not, and we have no reason at all, to despair of 
the future. 

The millions of victims who will fall in the war, and as 
a consequence of the war, will not have died in vain. The 
millions who are starving, the millions who are sacrificing 
their lives in the trenches, are not only suffering, they are 
also gathering strength; they are pondering over the real 
causes of the war; they are becoming more determined and 
are acquiring a clearer revolutionary understanding. In all 
countries of the world there is growing discontent among the 
masses and greater ferment; there are strikes, demonstrations 



and protests against the war. This is an earnest of the 
proletarian revolution against capitalism that is bound to 
follow the European war. 

Berner Tagwacht No. 33, 
February 9, 1916 

First published in Russian in 1929 
in the second and third editions 
of Lenin's Collected Works, Vol, XIX 

Published according to 
the text in Berner Tagwacht 
Translated from the German 




February 10, 1916 

Dear Comrade, 

I was forcefully reminded of the burning question of the 
situation and the tasks of the opposition in France by your 
deportation from that country, reported, by the way, with 
a protest even by the chauvinist paper, La Bataille, 33 
which, however, did not care to tell the truth, namely, that 
you were deported for sympathising with the opposition. 

I saw Bourderon and Merrheim in Zimmerwald. I heard 
their reports and read about their work in the newspapers. 
I cannot in the least doubt their sincerity and devotion to 
the cause of the proletariat. Nevertheless, it is obvious that 
their tactics are mistaken. Both fear a split more than any- 
thing else. The slogan of both Bourderon and Merrheim is 
not a step, not a word that might lead to a split in the Social- 
ist Party or in the trade unions in France, that might lead 
to a split in the Second International, to the creation of the 
Third International. 

Nevertheless, the split in the labour and socialist move- 
ments throughout the world is a fact. We have two irrecon- 
cilable working-class tactics and policies in respect of the 
war. It is ridiculous to close your eyes to this fact. Any 
attempt to reconcile the irreconcilable will make all our 
work futile. In Germany, even Deputy Otto Riihle, a comrade 
of Liebknecht's, has openly admitted that a split in the party 
is inevitable, because its present majority, the official 
"leaders" of the German party, have gone over to the bour- 
geoisie. The arguments advanced against Riihle and against 
a split by the so-called representatives of the "Centre" or 
"marsh" (le marais), by Kautsky and Vorwarts, Si are noth- 
ing but lies and hypocrisy, however "well-intentioned" 



such hypocrisy may be. Kautsky and Vorwdrts cannot deny, 
and do not even attempt to deny, that the majority of the 
German party is in fact carrying out the policy of the 
bourgeoisie. Unity with such a majority is doing harm to 
the working class. It means subordinating the working 
class to the bourgeoisie of its "own" nation; it means a split 
in the international working class. Actually Rtihle is quite 
right; there are two parties in Germany. One, the official 
party, is carrying out the policy of the bourgeoisie. The 
other, the minority, is publishing illegal leaflets, organising 
demonstrations, etc. We see the same thing all over the world, 
and the impotent diplomats, or the "marsh", such as Kautsky 
in Germany, Longuet in France, and Martov and Trotsky 
in Russia, are doing the labour movement great harm by 
their insistence upon a fictitious unity, thereby hindering 
the now imminent unification of the opposition in all coun- 
tries and the creation of the Third International. In Britain 
even a moderate paper like the Labour Leader publishes 
Russell Williams' letters urging the necessity for a split 
with the trade union "leaders" and with the Labour Party, 
which, he says, has sold out the interests of the working 
class. A number of members of the Independent Labour 
Party have declared in the press that they sympathise with 
Russell Williams. In Russia, even Trotsky, the "concilia- 
tor", is now compelled to admit that a split is inevitable 
with the "patriots", i.e., the party of the Organising Com- 
mittee, the O.C., who approve of workers' participating 
in the war industries committees. 35 It is only false pride that 
compels Trotsky to continue to defend "unity" with 
Chkheidze's Duma group, which is the best friend, shield 
and protector of the "patriots" and the O.C. 

Even in the United States of America there is actually 
a complete split. Some socialists in that country want an 
army, and "preparedness", and war. Others, including Eugene 
Debs, the most popular leader of the workers and the Social- 
ist Party's presidential candidate, want civil war against 
the war of nations! 

Look at what Bourderon and Merrheim are doing! They 
say they are opposed to a split. But read the resolution which 
Bourderon moved at the Congress of the French Socialist 
Party. 36 It demands the withdrawal of the socialists 



from the Cabinet!! The resolution bluntly "disapproves" 
of the C.A.P. and the G.P. (C.A.P. = Com. Adm. Perm., 
G.P. = Groupe Parlem.*)!!! It is as clear as daylight that 
the adoption of such a resolution would cause a split in 
both the Socialist Party and the trade unions, because Messrs. 
Renaudel, Sembat, Jouhaux and Co. would never accept that. 

Bourderon and Merrheim share the error, the weakness and 
the timidity of the majority of the Zimmerwald Conference. 
On the one hand, this majority indirectly calls for revolutionary 
struggle in its Manifesto, but is afraid to do so openly. On 
the one hand, it declares that the capitalists of all countries 
are lying when they talk about "defence of the father- 
land" in the present war. On the other hand, the majority 
was afraid to add the obvious truth which, in any case, 
every thinking worker will add for himself, that not only are 
the capitalists lying, but so also are Renaudel, Sembat, 
Longuet, Hyndman, Kautsky, Plekhanov and Co.! Once 
again the majority of the Zimmerwald Conference wants 
to make peace with Vandervelde, Huysmans, Renaudel and 
Co. This is harmful to the working class, and the Zimmer- 
wald Left did the right thing in openly telling the workers 
the truth. 

Look at the hypocrisy of les socialistes-chauvins: in France 
they praise the German minorite, in Germany, the FrenchW 

What enormous significance there would be in the action 
of the French opposition if it straightforwardly, fearlessly, 
openly told the world: We are in agreement only with the 
German opposition, only with Riihle and his associates!! 
Only with those who fearlessly sever all connections with 
overt and covert social-chauvinism, socialisme chauvin, i.e., 
with all the "defenders of the fatherland" in the present 
war!! We ourselves are not afraid to break with the French 
"patriots" who call the defence of colonies "defence of the 
fatherland", and we urge socialists and syndicalists in all 
countries to do the sameW We extend our hand to Otto 
Riihle and Liebknecht, only to them and their associates; 
and we denounce the French and the German majorite and 
le marais. We proclaim a great international unification 

* The French abbreviations for Permanent Administrative Com- 
mission and parliamentary group. — Ed. 



of socialists all over the world who in this war repudiate 
"defence of the fatherland" as a fraud, and who are engaged 
in campaigning and preparing for the world proletarian 

Such an appeal would be of tremendous importance. It 
would disperse the hypocrites, expose and unmask the 
international fraud, and would give a great impetus to the 
rallying of workers all over the world who have really 
remained loyal to internationalism. 

Anarchist phrase-mongering has always done a lot of 
harm in France. But now the anarchist-patriots, the anarch- 
ist-chauvins, like Kropotkin, Grave, Cornelissen and the 
other knights of La Bataille Chauviniste will help to cure 
very many workers of anarchist phrase-mongering. Down 
with the socialist-patriots and socialist-chauvins and down 
also with anarchist-patriots and anarchist-c/ia uvinsl This 
call will be echoed in the hearts of the workers of France. Not 
anarchist phrase-mongering about revolution, but sustained, 
earnest, tenacious, persistent, systematic work of every- 
where creating illegal organisations among the workers, of 
spreading uncensored, i.e., illegal, literature, of preparing 
the movement of the masses against their governments. This 
is what the working class of all countries needs! 

It is not true to say that "the French are incapable" of 
carrying on illegal work regularly. It is not true! The French 
quickly learned to hide in the trenches; they will soon learn 
to do illegal work in the new conditions and systematically 
to build up a revolutionary mass movement. I have faith 
in the French revolutionary proletariat. It will also stimu- 
late the French opposition. 

P.S. I suggest that the French comrades publish a transla- 
tion of this letter (in full) as a separate leaflet. 31 

Published in French as 
a separate leaflet in 1916 

With best wishes, 



First published in Russian 
in 1924 in Proletarskaya 
Revolutsia No. 4 (27) 

Published according to 
the manuscript 



In their magazine, 38 and more definitely in their report to 
the International Socialist Committee (No. 2 of the Bulle- 
tin which appeared in German on November 27, 1915 39 ), 
the adherents of the Organising Committee (O.C.) assure 
the public that the Chkheidze group 40 and the O.C. have 
a policy of their own, which is completely internationalist 
and differs from the policy of Nashe Dyelo. This is flagrantly 
untrue. First of all, since the formation of the O.C. (August 
1912), we have witnessed for many years the most com- 
plete political agreement on all fundamental points, and 
the closest political co-operation, between the Chkheidze 
group and the O.C, and the Nasha Zarya group; and only 
this group has carried on any systematic work among the 
masses (the liquidators' daily papers). If there are any real 
differences between such close "friends", they must be proved, 
not by words but by weighty facts. Not a single fact 
of this kind can be produced. Secondly, for a number of years, 
from 1912 to 1914, the Chkheidze group and the O.C. have 
been Nasha Zarya's pawns and have systematically defended 
its policy (a fact very well known to workers in St. Peters- 
burg and elsewhere) but never have they used their influence 
in any way to change the policy of Nasha Zarya, Luch, 41 

Nasha Zarya was the only group to act independently on 
policies concerning the masses — for example, the struggle 
against the "strike fever", the election of leaders of the big- 
gest trade unions (metalworkers and others) and of the most 
important insurance organisations (the All-Russia Insurance 
Council); the O.C. and the Chkheidze group merely assisted 
it, and served it most loyally. Thirdly, there is not a single 



fact in the last eighteen months of the war to testify to any 
change in the long established relationship between the 
Chkheidze group and the O.C., and Nasha Zarya. On the 
contrary, the opposite is proved by facts, even of the kind 
that may be given publicity (most facts of this kind may 
not). It is a fact that in Russia there is not a single instance 
of either the O.C. or the Chkheidze group opposing the policy 
of Nashe Dyelo; and it would take more than one protest, 
in fact, a prolonged and victorious struggle, to effect a real 
change of policy; for Nashe Dyelo is a political magnitude 
fostered by liberal connections, whereas the O.C. and the 
Chkheidze group are merely political decor. It is a fact that 
Utro and Rabocheye Utro, 42 which follow the Nashe Dyelo 
line most faithfully, demonstrate their political proximity 
to the Chkheidze group even outwardly and speak in the 
name of the entire August bloc. It is a fact that the Chkheidze 
group has been collecting funds for Rabocheye Utro. It 
is a fact that the whole of the Chkheidze group has become 
a contributor of the Samara social-chauvinist paper Nash 
Golos (see No. 17). It is a fact that Chkhenkeli, a most 
prominent member of the Chkheidze group, has come out in 
the press, in the "defencist" or social-chauvinist magazine 
Sovremenny Mir, 43 the magazine published by Plekhanov 
and Alexinsky, with a declaration of principles quite in the 
spirit of Plekhanov, Nashe Dyelo, Kautsky and Axelrod. We 
quoted Chkhenkeli's declaration a long time ago, and yet 
neither the adherents of the O.C. in their magazine, nor 
Trotsky in his Nashe Slovo 44 have dared to defend this 
declaration, although they have defended and advertised 
the Chkheidze group. Fourthly, our points are proved by 
the direct political statements made on behalf of the whole 
of the Chkheidze group and of the whole of the O.C. Take 
the most important pronouncements, which have been re- 
printed in the O.C.'s magazine: the declaration of Chkheidze 
and Co. and the manifesto of the O.C. Their approach is 
identical, their attitude is the same. Since the O.C. is the 
supreme governing body of the "August bloc" against our 
Party, and since the O.C.'s manifesto was printed illegally, 
which means that it could speak more freely and directly 
than Chkheidze could in the Duma, let us examine the O.C.'s 


It is interesting to note, by the way, that this manifesto 
has already been the subject of a controversy in the German 
Social-Democratic press, in the Berne Social-Democratic 
paper. A contributor described the manifesto as "patriotic". 
This aroused the indignation of the Secretariat of the O.C. 
Abroad, which published a refutation, declaring that "we, the 
Secretariat Abroad, are guilty of such patriotism" too, and 
invited the editors of the paper to act as arbiter, as it were; 
for this purpose it submitted to them a full German transla- 
tion of the manifesto. Let us note that the paper's editors 
are notoriously partial to the O.C. to the point of giving 
it publicity. What then did these sympathising editors say? 

"We have read a manifesto issued by the O.C," they said 
(No. 250), "and we must admit that the text may undoubtedly 
give rise to a misunderstanding and impart to the whole 
a meaning which was perhaps alien to the authors of the 

Why have the adherents of the O.C. not reprinted in 
their magazine this opinion of the editors, whom they had 
themselves invited to act as arbiters? Because it is the 
opinion of their friends who have publicly refused to defend 
them! The opinion was couched in terms of exquisite diplo- 
matic courtesy, which makes it particularly evident that 
the editors desired to say something "pleasant" to Axelrod 
and Martov. It turned out that the "pleasantest" thing they 
could say is: "Perhaps [only "perhaps"!] the O.C. did not 
say what it meant to say; but what it did say 'may undoubt- 
edly give rise to a misunderstanding'"!! 

We strongly urge our readers to read the O.C.'s manifesto, 
which is reproduced in the Bund's Bulletin (No. 9). The 
cereful reader will note the following clear and simple facts: 
(1) the manifesto does not contain a single statement repu- 
diating national defence in the present war as a matter of 
principle; (2) there is absolutely nothing in the manifesto 
which "defencists" or social-chauvinists would find unaccept- 
able in principle; (3) there are a number of statements in 
the manifesto which are completely identical with "defenc- 
ism", such as "The proletariat cannot remain indifferent 
to the impending defeat" (repeating almost word for word 
what Rabocheye Utro said in No. 2: "not indifferent" to "saving 
the country from defeat"); "the proletariat is vitally interested 



in national self-preservation"; "a popular revolution" 
must save the country "from external defeat", etc. Anyone 
really hostile to social-chauvinism would have said instead: 
The landowners, the tsar and the bourgeoisie are lying; 
by national self-preservation they mean preserving the 
Great-Russian oppression of Poland and retaining her by 
force; they are lying, their talk about saving the "country" 
from defeat being designed to conceal their desire to "save" 
their Great-Power privileges and divert the proletariat from 
the tasks of fighting the international bourgeoisie. To admit 
in one breath the need for the international solidarity of 
the proletariat of the belligerent countries in this preda- 
tory imperialist war and the permissibility of phrases about 
"saving" one of these countries from "defeat" is sheer hypoc- 
risy and signifies that one's declarations are nothing more 
than idle talk and false oratory. The implication there is 
that the tactics of the proletariat depend on the military 
situation of a given country at a given time; if that is the 
case the French social-chauvinists would also be right in 
helping to "save" Austria or Turkey from "defeat". 

The O.C. Secretariat Abroad writing in the German 
Social-Democratic press (the Berne paper) has put forward 
yet another sophism which is so shameless, so crude, and 
so deliberately "set" to catch the Germans in particular, 
that the adherents of the O.C. wisely refrained from repeating 
it before the Russian public. 

"If it is patriotism," they write for the benefit of the Ger- 
mans in a tone of noble indignation, "to tell the proletariat 
that revolution is the only means of saving the country from 
disaster", then we, too, are "patriots", and "we wish the 
International had many more 'patriots' like this in every 
Socialist Party; we are sure that Liebknecht, Rosa Luxem- 
burg and Merrheim would be very glad to have many more 
'patriots' like these around them to appeal to the German 
and French workers with manifestos of this kind". 

This is deliberate misrepresentation, the five secretaries 
know perfectly well that there is not a hint of any bour- 
geois revolutionary mood or any bourgeois social movement 
striving for revolution for the sake of victory over the enemy 
either in France or Germany, both of which are headed for 
socialist revolution; in Russia, however, just because she 


is headed for a bourgeois-democratic revolution, such a 
movement does exist, as everybody knows. The five secre- 
taries are trying to deceive the Germans by an amusing 
sophism: the O.C. and Chkheidze and Co. cannot be revolu- 
tionary chauvinists in Russia, they argue, because in Europe 
a combination of revolutionism with chauvinism is an 

Indeed, it would be an absurdity in Europe. But in 
Russia it is a fact. You may reproach the Prizyv 45 crowd 
for being bad bourgeois revolutionaries, but you cannot deny 
that in their own way they combine chauvinism with revo- 
lutionism. The July Conference of the Narodniks in Russia, 46 
Nashe Dyelo and Rabocheye Utro most faithfully take the 
Prizyv attitude in this respect; they, too, combine chauvin- 
ism with revolutionism. 

The same stand is taken by the Chkheidze group in its 
declaration (pp. 141-43 of the O.C.'s magazine). Chkheidze 
uses the same chauvinist phrases about the "danger of 
defeat", he admits the imperialist character of the war, stands 
for "peace without annexations", "the general tasks of the 
entire international proletariat", "the struggle for peace", 
etc., etc., but so does Rabocheye Utro; and so do the petty- 
bourgeois Russian Narodniks. We read on page 146 of this 
very magazine of the O.C. that the petty-bourgeois Narod- 
niks have admitted the imperialist character of the war, have 
adopted the demand for "peace without annexations" and 
have admitted that socialists (the Narodniks, as well as 
the Rabocheye Utro group wish to be known as socialists) 
"must strive for an early restoration of the international 
solidarity of socialist organisations in order to stop the war", 
etc. The petty-bourgeois Narodniks use all these phrases to 
camouflage the slogan of "national defence", which they 
have openly advanced, whereas Chkheidze, the O.C, and 
Rabocheye Utro spell out the same slogan as "save the country 
from defeat"! 

The net result is that Chkheidze and the O.C. have poured 
out a string of revolutionary phrases, which commit them to 
nothing at all and which in no way hinder the practical poli- 
cies of Prizyv and Nashe Dyelo, but have hushed up these 
policies. In one way or another they support participation in 
the war industries committees. 



What is needed, gentlemen, is less talk about revolution 
and more clarity, straightforwardness and honesty in the 
practical policies of today. You promise to be revolutiona- 
ries, but for the time being you are helping the chauvinists, 
the bourgeoisie and tsarism: either you openly advocate 
workers' participation in the war industries committees, or 
you tacitly defend those who do participate by not fighting 

Martov may wriggle as much as he likes. Trotsky may 
shout against our factionalism to cover up his own "expecta- 
tions" (an old trick of Turgenev's hero! 47 ), which are surely 
non-factional, that someone in Chkheidze's group is "in 
agreement" with him and swears that he is a Leftist, an 
internationalist, etc. But facts are facts. There is not a hint 
of any serious political difference not only between the O.C. 
and the Chkheidze group; there is none even between them 
and Rabocheye Utro or Prizyv. 

That is why they are all together in opposing our Party 
in practice; that is why they all stand for the bourgeois 
policy of workers' participating in the war industries commit- 
tees, and are together in siding with the non-party workers 
and the Narodniks. The verbal reservations and the avowals 
of "disagreement" made by the "secretaries abroad" is idle 
talk, which does not affect the real policy of the masses 
in much the same way as the vows of Siidekum, Legien 
and David that they are "for peace" and "against war" 
do not absolve them of chauvinism. 

Sotsial-Demokrat No. 50, 
February 18, 1916 

Published according to 
the Sotsial-Demokrat text 



The Berne resolution of our Party declared: "Pacifism, 
the preaching of peace in the abstract is one of the means of 
duping the working class.... At the present time, the propa- 
ganda of peace unaccompanied by a call for revolutionary 
mass action can only sow illusions and demoralise the 
proletariat, for it makes the proletariat believe that the bour- 
geoisie is humane and turns it into a plaything in the hands 
of the secret diplomacy of the belligerent countries" (see 
Sotsial-Demokrat 4S No. 40, and "Socialism and War").* 

The opponents of our point of view on the question of 
peace, who are numerous among Russian political emigres, 
but not among the Russian workers, have never taken the 
trouble to analyse these propositions. Theoretically irre- 
futable, these propositions have now received striking and 
practical confirmation from the turn of events in our country. 

Rabocheye Utro, the organ of the Petersburg legalist- 
liquidators, which is ideologically supported by the Organ- 
ising Committee, is known to have adopted a social-chauvin- 
ist, "defencist" position from its very first issue. It published 
the "defencist" manifestos of the Petersburg and Moscow 
social-chauvinists. Both manifestos express, inter alia, 
the idea of "peace without annexations", and Rabocheye Utro 
No. 2, which particularly stresses that slogan, prints it in 
italics and calls it "a line which provides the country with 
a way out of the impasse". It is calumny to call us chauvin- 
ists, the paper seems to say; we fully accept the most 
"democratic", even "truly socialist" slogan of "peace without 

* See present edition, Vol. 21, "The Conference of the R.S.D.L.P. 
Groups Abroad". — Ed. 



No doubt Nicholas the Bloody finds it to his advantage 
to have his loyal subjects put forward such a slogan at the 
present time. Tsarism, supported by the landowners and 
the bourgeoisie, led its armies to rob and enslave Galicia 
(not to mention the treaty to carve up Turkey, etc.). The 
armies of the no less predatory German imperialists repulsed 
the Russian robbers and expelled them, not only from Gali- 
cia, but also from "Russian Poland". (In this struggle for 
the interests of both these cliques, hundreds of thousands of 
Russian and German workers and peasants fell on the field 
of battle.) The peace-without-annexations slogan thus turned 
out to be an excellent "plaything in the hands of the secret 
diplomacy" of tsarism; the latter can now say: Look, we 
are the aggrieved; we have been robbed, deprived of Poland; 
we are opposed to annexations! 

How much the Rabocheye Utro social-chauvinists "relish" 
the part of lackeys to tsarism is particularly evident from an 
article in the first issue of that paper, entitled "Polish Emi- 
gration". "The months of the war," we read, "have engendered 
in the minds of broad sections of the Polish people a 
strong urge to independence." The implication is that 
there was no such thing before the war. "The mass [this 
seems to be a misprint and ought to read "the idea, the 
thought", etc.] of Poland's national independence has tri- 
umphed in the social consciousness of broad sections of Polish 

democrats The Polish question looms relentlessly in 

all its magnitude before Russian democrats " "The Rus- 
sian liberals" refuse to give straightforward answers to the 
vexed questions "of Poland's independence". 

Nicholas the Bloody, Khvostov, Chelnokov, Milyukov 
and Co. are, of course, entirely in favour of Poland's inde- 
pendence — they are heart and soul in favour of it now, 
when this slogan, put into practice, means victory over 
Germany, the country which has deprived Russia of Poland. 
Let us not forget that before the war, the creators of "the 
Stolypin labour party" 49 were wholly and unreservedly 
opposed to the slogan of the self-determination of nations 
and Poland's right to secede, putting up the opportunist 
Semkovsky for the noble purpose of defending the tsarist 
oppression of Poland. Now that Poland has been taken from 
Russia they are in favour of the "independence" of Poland 



(from Germany; but on this point they maintain a discreet 

You social-chauvinist gentlemen will not deceive the 
class-conscious workers of Russia! Your 1915 "Octobrist" 50 
slogan on independence for Poland and peace without 
annexations is in practice servility to tsarism, which at the 
present time, in February 1916 to be precise, is sorely in 
need of camouflaging its war with fine words about "peace 
without annexations" (driving Hindenburg out of Poland) 
and independence for Poland (independence from Wilhelm, 
but dependence upon Nicholas II). 

The Russian Social-Democrat who has not forgotten his 
Programme argues differently. Russian democracy, he will 
say, having Great-Russian democracy in mind first of all 
and most of all, for it alone in Russia has always enjoyed 
freedom of language — this democracy has undoubtedly 
gained from the fact that at present Russia does not oppress 
Poland and hold it by force. The Russian proletariat has 
undoubtedly gained from the fact that it no longer oppresses 
a people it had helped to oppress yesterday. German democ- 
racy has undoubtedly lost, for as long as the German prole- 
tariat tolerates Germany's oppression of Poland it will 
remain in a position which is worse than that of a slave 
it is the position of a flunkey helping to keep others enslaved. 
Only the German Junkers and the bourgeoisie have really 

Hence, Russian Social-Democrats must expose the decep- 
tion of the people by tsarism, now that the slogans of "peace 
without annexations" and "independence for Poland" are 
being played up in Russia, for in the present situation 
both these slogans express and justify the desire to 
continue the war. We must say, No war over Poland! The 
Russian people do not want to become Poland's oppressor 

But how can we help liberate Poland from Germany? 
Isn't it our duty to do so? Of course it is, though never by 
supporting the imperialist war waged by Russia, be it 
tsarist, or bourgeois, or even bourgeois-republican, but by 
supporting the revolutionary proletariat of Germany, by 
supporting those elements in the Social-Democratic Party 
of Germany who are fighting against the counter-revolutionary 



labour party of the Siidekums, and Kautsky and Co. Kautsky 
very recently demonstrated his counter-revolutionary na- 
ture in a most flagrant manner; on November 26, 1915, he 
described street demonstrations as "adventurism" (just as 
Struve said on the eve of January 9, 1905, that there were no 
revolutionary people in Russia), and yet, on November 30, 
1915, ten thousand working women demonstrated in Ber- 

All those who do not want to back the freedom of nations, 
the right of nations to self-determination, hypocritically, 
in the Siidekum, Plekhanov, Kautsky fashion, but want to 
do this sincerely, must oppose the war over the oppression 
of Poland, they must stand for the right of the nations 
Russia is now oppressing, namely, the Ukraine, Finland, 
etc., to secede from Russia. Those who do not wish to be 
social-chauvinists in deed must support only those elements 
in the socialist parties of all countries which are working, 
directly, immediately, right now, for the proletarian revo- 
lution in their own countries. 

Not "peace without annexations", but peace to the 
cottages, war on the palaces; peace to the proletariat and the 
working people, war on the bourgeoisie! 

Sotsial-Demokrat No. 51, 
February 29, 1916 

Published according to 
the Sotsial-Demokrat text 



The pamphlet by the avowed German opportunist, Wil- 
helm Kolb, entitled Social-Democracy at the Crossroads 
(Karlsruhe, 1915), appeared opportunely after the publi- 
cation of Plekhanov's symposium, War. The Kautskyite 
Rudolf Hilferding wrote a very feeble reply to Kolb in Die 
Neue Zeit, in which he evaded the main issue and snivelled 
over Kolb's correct assertion that the unity of the German 
Social-Democrats was "purely formal". 

Whoever wishes to give serious thought to the significance 
of the collapse of the Second International would do well to 
compare Kolb's ideological position with Plekhanov's. 
Like Kautsky, both agree on the fundamental issue; both 
reject and ridicule the idea of revolutionary action in con- 
nection with the present war; both accuse the revolutionary 
Social-Democrats of "defeatism", to use the pet expression 
of Plekhanov's followers. Plekhanov, who describes the idea 
of a revolution in connection with the present war as a 
"farcical dream", rails against "revolutionary phraseology". 
Kolb at every step curses "revolutionary phrases", the 
"revolutionary fantasies", the "petty radical (Radikalinski) 
hystericals", "sectarianism", etc. Kolb and Plekhanov agree 
on the main issue; both are opposed to revolution. The fact 
that Kolb is generally opposed to revolution, whereas 
Plekhanov and Kautsky are "generally in favour", is only 
a difference in shade, in words; in reality, Plekhanov and 
Kautsky are Kolb's underlings. 

Kolb is more honest, not in a personal, but in a political 
sense, that is, being consistent in his stand, he is not a 
hypocrite. Hence, he is not afraid to admit the truth that, from 
his point of view, the entire International had been imbued 



with "the spirit of revolutionary fantasy", that it had uttered 
"threats" (threats of revolution, Messrs. Plekhanov and 
Kolb!) in connection with the war. Kolb is right when he 
says that it is ridiculous to "repudiate" capitalist society 
"in principle" after the Social-Democratic parties of Europe 
had risen in its defence at the very moment when the capital- 
ist state was cracking from top to bottom, when "its very 
existence was in question". This admission of the objective 
revolutionary situation is the truth. 

"The consequence" (of the tactics of Liebknecht's follow- 
ers), writes Kolb, "would be that the internal struggle within 
the German nation would be brought up to boiling point 
and this would weaken its military and political power" the advantage and victory "of the imperialism of the 
Triple Entente"!! Here you have the crux of the opportunist 
railing against "defeatism"!! 

This is really the crux of the whole question. "Internal 
struggle which has been brought up to boiling point" is 
civil war. Kolb is right when he says that the tactics of the 
Left lead to this; he is right when he says that they mean 
the "military weakening" of Germany, i.e., desiring and 
aiding its defeat, defeatism. Kolb is wrong only — only! — in 
that he refuses to see the international character of these 
tactics of the Left. For it is possible "to bring the internal 
struggle up to boiling point", "weaken the military power" 
of the imperialist bourgeoisie and (by virtue of this, in con- 
nection with it, by means of it) transform the imperialist 
war into civil war in all the belligerent countries. This is 
the crux of the whole matter. We thank Kolb for his good 
wishes, admissions and illustrations; since all this comes 
from a most consistent, honest and avowed enemy of the 
revolution, it is particularly useful as a means of exposing 
to the workers the hideous hypocrisy and the shameful 
spinelessness of the Plekhanovs and Kautskys. 

Sotsial-Demokrat No. 51, 
February 29, 1916 

Published according to 
the Sotsial-Demokrat text 





Imperialism is the highest stage in the development of 
capitalism. In the foremost countries capital has outgrown 
the bounds of national states, has replaced competition by 
monopoly and has created all the objective conditions for 
the achievement of socialism. In Western Europe and in 
the United States, therefore, the revolutionary struggle of 
the proletariat for the overthrow of capitalist governments 
and the expropriation of the bourgeoisie is on the order of 
the day. Imperialism forces the masses into this struggle 
by sharpening class contradictions on a tremendous scale, 
by worsening the conditions of the masses both economically 
— trusts, high cost of living — and politically — the growth 
of militarism, more frequent wars, more powerful reaction, 
the intensification and expansion of national oppression and 
colonial plunder. Victorious socialism must necessarily 
establish a full democracy and, consequently, not only 
introduce full equality of nations but also realise the right 
of the oppressed nations to self-determination, i.e., the right 
to free political separation. Socialist parties which did not 
show by all their activity, both now, during the revolution, 
and after its victory, that they would liberate the enslaved 
nations and build up relations with them on the basis of 
a free union — and free union is a false phrase without the 
right to secede — these parties would be betraying social- 



Democracy, of course, is also a form of state which must 
disappear when the state disappears, but that will only take 
place in the transition from conclusively victorious and 
consolidated socialism to full communism. 


The socialist revolution is not a single act, it is not one 
battle on one front, but a whole epoch of acute class con- 
flicts, a long series of battles on all fronts, i.e., on all 
questions of economics and politics, battles that can only end 
in the expropriation of the bourgeoisie. It would be a radical 
mistake to think that the struggle for democracy was capable 
of diverting the proletariat from the socialist revolution or of 
hiding, overshadowing it, etc. On the contrary, in the same 
way as there can be no victorious socialism that does not 
practise full democracy, so the proletariat cannot prepare 
for its victory over the bourgeoisie without an all-round, 
consistent and revolutionary struggle for democracy. 

It would be no less a mistake to remove one of the points 
of the democratic programme, for example, the point on the 
self-determination of nations, on the grounds of it being 
"impracticable" or "illusory" under imperialism. The con- 
tention that the right of nations to self-determination is 
impracticable within the bounds of capitalism can be under- 
stood either in the absolute, economic sense, or in the con- 
ditional, political sense. 

In the first case it is radically incorrect from the stand- 
point of theory. First, in that sense, such things as, for 
example, labour money, or the abolition of crises, etc., 
are impracticable under capitalism. It is absolutely untrue 
that the self-determination of nations is equally impracti- 
cable. Secondly, even the one example of the secession of 
Norway from Sweden in 1905 is sufficient to refute "impracti- 
cability" in that sense. Thirdly, it would be absurd to deny 
that some slight change in the political and strategic re- 
lations of, say, Germany and Britain, might today or tomor- 
row make the formation of a new Polish, Indian and other 
similar state fully "practicable". Fourthly, finance capital, 
in its drive to expand, can "freely" buy or bribe the freest 



democratic or republican government and the elective 
officials of any, even an "independent", country. The domina- 
tion of finance capital and of capital in general is not to be 
abolished by any reforms in the sphere of political democ- 
racy; and self-determination belongs wholly and exclusively 
to this sphere. This domination of finance capital, however, 
does not in the least nullify the significance of political democ- 
racy as a freer, wider and clearer form of class oppression and 
class struggle. Therefore all arguments about the "impracti- 
cability", in the economic sense, of one of the demands of 
political democracy under capitalism are reduced to a theo- 
retically incorrect definition of the general and basic rela- 
tionships of capitalism and of political democracy as a whole. 

In the second case the assertion is incomplete and inaccu- 
rate. This is because not only the right of nations to self- 
determination, but all the fundamental demands of political 
democracy are only partially "practicable" under imperial- 
ism, and then in a distorted form and by way of exception 
(for example, the secession of Norway from Sweden in 1905). 
The demand for the immediate liberation of the colonies 
that is put forward by all revolutionary Social-Democrats 
is also "impracticable" under capitalism without a series of 
revolutions. But from this it does not by any means follow 
that Social-Democracy should reject the immediate and most 
determined struggle for all these demands — such a rejection 
would only play into the hands of the bourgeoisie and reaction 
— but, on the contrary, it follows that these demands 
must be formulated and put through in a revolutionary and 
not a reformist manner, going beyond the bounds of bourgeois 
legality, breaking them down, going beyond speeches 
in parliament and verbal protests, and drawing the masses 
into decisive action, extending and intensifying the struggle 
for every fundamental democratic demand up to a direct 
proletarian onslaught on the bourgeoisie, i.e., up to the 
socialist revolution that expropriates the bourgeoisie. The 
socialist revolution may flare up not only through some big 
strike, street demonstration or hunger riot or a military 
insurrection or colonial revolt, but also as a result of a polit- 
ical crisis such as the Dreyfus case 51 or the Zabern inci- 
dent, 52 or in connection with a referendum on the secession 
of an oppressed nation, etc. 



Increased national oppression under imperialism does 
not mean that Social-Democracy should reject what the bour- 
geoisie call the "utopian" struggle for the freedom of nations 
to secede but, on the contrary, it should make greater use 
of the conflicts that arise in this sphere, too, as grounds for 
mass action and for revolutionary attacks on the bour- 


The right of nations to self-determination implies exclu- 
sively the right to independence in the political sense, the 
right to free political separation from the oppressor nation. 
Specifically, this demand for political democracy implies 
complete freedom to agitate for secession and for a referen- 
dum on secession by the seceding nation. This demand, 
therefore, is not the equivalent of a demand for separation, 
fragmentation and the formation of small states. It implies 
only a consistent expression of struggle against all national 
oppression. The closer a democratic state system is to com- 
plete freedom to secede the less frequent and less ardent 
will the desire for separation be in practice, because big 
states afford indisputable advantages, both from the stand- 
point of economic progress and from that of the interests 
of the masses and, furthermore, these advantages increase 
with the growth of capitalism. Recognition of self-determi- 
nation is not synonymous with recognition of federation as 
a principle. One may be a determined opponent of that 
principle and a champion of democratic centralism but 
still prefer federation to national inequality as the only way 
to full democratic centralism. It was from this standpoint 
that Marx, who was a centralist, preferred even the federa- 
tion of Ireland and England to the forcible subordination 
of Ireland to the English. 53 

The aim of socialism is not only to end the division of 
mankind into tiny states and the isolation of nations in 
any form, it is not only to bring the nations closer together 
but to integrate them. And it is precisely in order to achieve 
this aim that we must, on the one hand, explain to the masses 
the reactionary nature of Renner and Otto Bauer's idea of 



so-called "cultural and national autonomy" 54 and, on the 
other, demand the liberation of oppressed nations in a 
clearly and precisely formulated political programme that 
takes special account of the hypocrisy and cowardice of 
socialists in the oppressor nations, and not in general 
nebulous phrases, not in empty declamations and not by way 
of "relegating" the question until socialism has been achieved. 
In the same way as mankind can arrive at the abolition of 
classes only through a transition period of the dictatorship 
of the oppressed class, it can arrive at the inevitable inte- 
gration of nations only through a transition period of the 
complete emancipation of all oppressed nations, i.e., their 
freedom to secede. 


The petty bourgeoisie had put forward not only the 
demand for the self-determination of nations but all the points 
of our democratic minimum programme long before, as 
far back as the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. They 
are still putting them all forward in a Utopian manner because 
they fail to see the class struggle and its increased inten- 
sity under democracy, and because they believe in "peaceful" 
capitalism. That is the exact nature of the utopia of a peace- 
ful union of equal nations under imperialism which deceives 
the people and which is defended by Kautsky's followers. 
The programme of Social-Democracy, as a counter-balance to 
this petty-bourgeois, opportunist utopia, must postulate the 
division of nations into oppressor and oppressed as basic, 
significant and inevitable under imperialism. 

The proletariat of the oppressor nation's must not confine 
themselves to general, stereotyped phrases against annexa- 
tion and in favour of the equality of nations in general, such 
as any pacifist bourgeois will repeat. The proletariat cannot 
remain silent on the question of the frontiers of a state found- 
ed on national oppression, a question so "unpleasant" for 
the imperialist bourgeoisie. The proletariat must struggle 
against the enforced retention of oppressed nations within 
the bounds of the given state, which means that they must 
fight for the right to self-determination. The proletariat 



must demand freedom of political separation for the colonies 
and nations oppressed by "their own" nation. Otherwise, the 
internationalism of the proletariat would be nothing but 
empty words; neither confidence nor class solidarity would 
be possible between the workers of the oppressed and the 
oppressor nations, the hypocrisy of the reformists and Kaut- 
skyites, who defend self-determination but remain silent 
about the nations oppressed by "their own" nation and kept 
in "their own" state by force, would remain unexposed. 

On the other hand, the socialists of the oppressed nations 
must, in particular, defend and implement the full and uncon- 
ditional unity, including organisational unity, of the work- 
ers of the oppressed nation and those of the oppressor nation. 
Without this it is impossible to defend the independent 
policy of the proletariat and their class solidarity with the 
proletariat of other countries in face of all manner of in- 
trigues, treachery and trickery on the part of the bourgeoi- 
sie. The bourgeoisie of the oppressed nations persistently 
utilise the slogans of national liberation to deceive the work- 
ers; in their internal policy they use these slogans for 
reactionary agreements with the bourgeoisie of the dominant 
nation (for example, the Poles in Austria and Russia who come 
to terms with reactionaries for the oppression of the Jews 
and Ukrainians); in their foreign policy they strive to come 
to terms with one of the rival imperialist powers for the 
sake of implementing their predatory plans (the policy of 
the small Balkan states, etc.). 

The fact that the struggle for national liberation against 
one imperialist power may, under certain conditions, be 
utilised by another "great" power for its own, equally 
imperialist, aims, is just as unlikely to make the Social- 
Democrats refuse to recognise the right of nations to self- 
determination as the numerous cases of bourgeois utilisa- 
tion of republican slogans for the purpose of political 
deception and financial plunder (as in the Romance countries, 
for example) are unlikely to make the Social-Democrats 
reject their republicanism.* 

* It would, needless to say, be quite ridiculous to reject the right 
to self-determination on the grounds that it implies "defence of the 
fatherland". With equal right, i.e., with equal lack of seriousness 
the social-chauvinists of 1914-16 refer to any of the demands of de- 




In contrast to the petty-bourgeois democrats, Marx 
regarded every democratic demand without exception not as 
an absolute, but as an historical expression of the struggle 
of the masses of the people, led by the bourgeoisie, against 
feudalism. There is not one of these demands which could 
not serve and has not served, under certain circumstances, 
as an instrument in the hands of the bourgeoisie for deceiving 
the workers. To single out, in this respect, one of the demands 
of political democracy, specifically, the self-determination 
of nations, and to oppose it to the rest, is fundamentally 
wrong in theory. In practice, the proletariat can retain its 
independence only by subordinating its struggle for all 
democratic demands, not excluding the demand for a repub- 
lic, to its revolutionary struggle for the overthrow of the 

On the other hand, in contrast to the Proudhonists who 
"denied" the national problem "in the name of social revolu- 
tion", Marx, mindful in the first place of the interests of 
the proletarian class struggle in the advanced countries, 
put the fundamental principle of internationalism and so- 
cialism in the foreground — namely, that no nation can be 
free if it oppresses other nations. 55 It was from the standpoint 
of the interests of the German workers' revolutionary move- 
ment that Marx in 1848 demanded that victorious democ- 
racy in Germany should proclaim and grant freedom to the 
nations oppressed by the Germans. 56 It was from the stand- 
point of the revolutionary struggle of the English workers 
that Marx, in 1869, demanded the separation of Ireland from 
England, and added: "...even if federation should follow 
upon separation." 57 Only by putting forward this demand 
was Marx really educating the English workers in the spirit 

mocracy (to its republicanism, for example) and to any formulation 
of the struggle against national oppression in order to justify "de- 
fence of the fatherland". Marxism deduces the defence of the father- 
land in wars, for example, in the great French Revolution or the wars 
of Garibaldi, in Europe, and the renunciation of defence of the fa- 
therland in the imperialist war of 1914-16, from an analysis of the 
concrete historical peculiarities of each individual war and never 
from any "general principle", or any one point of a programme. 



of internationalism. Only in this way could he counterpose 
the opportunists and bourgeois reformism — which even to 
this day, half a century later, has not carried out the Irish 
"reform" — with a revolutionary solution of the given his- 
torical task. Only in this way could Marx maintain — in 
contradiction to the apologists of capital who shout that 
the freedom of small nations to secede is Utopian and imprac- 
ticable and that not only economic but also political con- 
centration is progressive — that this concentration is pro- 
gressive when it is nore-imperialist, and that nations should 
not be brought together by force, but by a free union of the 
proletarians of all countries. Only in this way could Marx, 
in opposition to the merely verbal, and often hypocritical, 
recognition of the equality and self-determination of nations, 
advocate the revolutionary action of the masses in the 
settlement of national questions as well. The imperialist war 
of 1914-16, and the Augean stables of hypocrisy on the part 
of the opportunists and Kautskyites that it has exposed, have 
strikingly confirmed the correctness of Marx's policy, which 
should serve as a model for all advanced countries, for all 
of them are now oppressing other nations.* 


In this respect, countries must be divided into three main 

First, the advanced capitalist countries of Western Europe 
and the United States. In these countries progressive bour- 
geois national movements came to an end long ago. Every 

* Reference is often made— e.g., recently by the German chau- 
vinist Lensch in Die Glocke 5S Nos. 8 and 9 — to the fact that Marx's 
objection to the national movement of certain peoples, to that of 
the Czechs in 1848, for example, refutes the necessity of recognising 
the self-determination of nation from the Marxist standpoint. But 
this is incorrect for in 1848 there were historical and political grounds 
for drawing a distinction between "reactionary" and revolutionary- 
democratic nations. Marx was right to condemn the former and 
defend the latter. 59 The right to self-determination is one of the 
demands of democracy which must naturally be subordinated to its 
general interests. In 1848 and the following years these general 
interests consisted primarily in combating tsarism. 



one of these "great" nations oppresses other nations both 
in the colonies and at home. The tasks of the proletariat of 
these ruling nations are the same as those of the proletariat 
in England in the nineteenth century in relation to Ireland.* 
Secondly, Eastern Europe: Austria, the Balkans and par- 
ticularly Russia. Here it was the twentieth century that 
particularly developed the bourgeois-democratic national 
movements and intensified the national struggle. The tasks 
of the proletariat in these countries, both in completing 
their bourgeois-democratic reforms, and rendering assistance 
to the socialist revolution in other countries, cannot be 
carried out without championing the right of nations to 
self-determination. The most difficult and most important 
task in this is to unite the class struggle of the workers of 
the oppressor nations with that of the workers of the oppressed 

Thirdly, the semi-colonial countries, such as China, 
Persia and Turkey, and all the colonies, which have a com- 
bined population of 1,000 million. In these countries the 
bourgeois-democratic movements either have hardly begun, 
or have still a long way to go. Socialists must not only 
demand the unconditional and immediate liberation of the 
colonies without compensation — and this demand in its 
political expression signifies nothing else than the recogni- 
tion of the right to self-determination; they must also render 
determined support to the more revolutionary elements in 
the bourgeois-democratic movements for national liberation 

* In some small states which have kept out of the war of 1914-16 — 
Holland and Switzerland, for example — the bourgeoisie makes exten- 
sive use of the "self-determination of nations" slogan to justify par- 
ticipation in the imperialist war. This is a motive inducing the 
Social-Democrats in such countries to repudiate self-determination. 
Wrong arguments are being used to defend a correct proletarian 
policy, the repudiation of "defence of the fatherland" in an imperial- 
ist war. This results in a distortion of Marxism in theory, and in 
practice leads to a peculiar small-nation narrow-mindedness, neglect 
of the hundreds of millions of people in nations that are enslaved by 
the "dominant" nations. Comrade Gorter, in his excellent pamphlet 
Imperialism, War and Social-Democracy wrongly rejects the principle 
of self-determination of nations, but correctly applies it, when he 
demands the immediate granting of "political and national independ- 
ence" to the Dutch Indies and exposes the Dutch opportunists who 
refuse to put forward this demand and to fight for it. 



in these countries and assist their uprising — or revolutionary 
war, in the event of one — against the imperialist powers that 
oppress them. 



The imperialist epoch and the war of 1914-16 has laid 
special emphasis on the struggle against chauvinism and 
nationalism in the leading countries. There are two main 
trends on the self-determination of nations among the social- 
chauvinists, that is, among the opportunists and Kautskyites, 
who hide the imperialist, reactionary nature of the war by 
applying to it the "defence of the fatherland" concept. 

On the one hand, we see quite undisguised servants of 
the bourgeoisie who defend annexation on the plea that im- 
perialism and political concentration are progressive, and 
who deny what they call the Utopian, illusory, petty-bour- 
geois, etc., right to self-determination. This includes Cunow, 
Parvus and the extreme opportunists in Germany, some of 
the Fabians and trade union leaders in England, and the 
opportunists in Russia: Semkovsky, Liebman, Yurkevich, 

On the other hand, we see the Kautskyites, among whom 
are Vandervelde, Renaudel, many pacifists in Britain and 
France, and others. They favour unity with the former and 
in practice are completely identified with them; they defend 
the right to self-determination hypocritically and by words 
alone; they consider "excessive" ("zu viel verlangf '; Kautsky 
in Die Neue Zeit, May 21, 1915) the demand for free political 
separation, they do not defend the necessity for revolutionary 
tactics on the part of the socialists of the oppressor nations 
in particular but, on the contrary, obscure their revolution- 
ary obligations, justify their opportunism, make easy 
for them their deception of the people, and avoid the very 
question of the frontiers of a state forcefully retaining under- 
privileged nations within its bounds, etc. 

Both are equally opportunist, they prostitute Marxism, 
having lost all ability to understand the theoretical signif- 
icance and practical urgency of the tactics which Marx ex- 
plained with Ireland as an example. 



As for annexations, the question has become particularly 
urgent in connection with the war. But what is annexation? 
It is quite easy to see that a protest against annexations either 
boils down to recognition of the self-determination of nations 
or is based on the pacifist phrase that defends the status quo 
and is hostile to any, even revolutionary, violence. Such 
a phrase is fundamentally false and incompatible with 


The socialist revolution may begin in the very near future. 
In this case the proletariat will be faced with the immediate 
task of winning power, expropriating the banks and effecting 
other dictatorial measures. The bourgeoisie — and especially 
the intellectuals of the Fabian and Kautskyite type — will, 
at such a moment, strive to split and check the revolution 
by foisting limited, democratic aims on it. Whereas any 
purely democratic demands are in a certain sense liable to 
act as a hindrance to the revolution, provided the proletarian 
attack on the pillars of bourgeois power has begun, the neces- 
sity to proclaim and grant liberty to all oppressed peoples 
(i.e., their right to self-determination) will be as urgent in 
the socialist revolution as it was for the victory of the bour- 
geois-democratic revolution in, say, Germany in 1848, or 
Russia in 1905. 

It is possible, however, that five, ten or more years will 
elapse before the socialist revolution begins. This will be 
the time for the revolutionary education of the masses in 
a spirit that will make it impossible for socialist-chauvinists 
and opportunists to belong to the working-class party and 
gain a victory, as was the case in 1914-16. The socialists 
must explain to the masses that British socialists who do 
not demand freedom to separate for the colonies and Ire- 
land, German socialists who do not demand freedom to sep- 
arate for the colonies, the Alsatians, Danes and Poles, and 
who do not extend their revolutionary propaganda and revo- 
lutionary mass activity directly to the sphere of struggle 
against national oppression, or who do not make use of such 
incidents as that at Zabern for the broadest illegal propa- 
ganda among the proletariat of the oppressor nation, for 



street demonstrations and revolutionary mass action — 
Russian socialists who do not demand freedom to separate 
for Finland, Poland, the Ukraine, etc., etc. — that such 
socialists act as chauvinists and lackeys of bloodstained and 
filthy imperialist monarchies and the imperialist bourgeoisie. 


The differences between the revolutionary Social-Demo- 
crats of Russia and the Polish Social-Democrats on the ques- 
tion of self-determination came out into the open as early 
as 1903, at the Congress which adopted the Programme of 
the R.S.D.L. Party, and which, despite the protest by the 
Polish Social-Democrat delegation, inserted Clause 9, recog- 
nising the right of nations to self-determination. Since then 
the Polish Social-Democrats have on no occasion repeated, in 
the name of their party, the proposal to remove Clause 9 from 
our Party's Programme, or to replace it by some other formula. 

In Russia, where the oppressed nations account for no 
less than 57 per cent of the population, or over 100 million, 
where they occupy mostly the border regions, where some 
of them are more highly cultured than the Great Russians, 
where the political system is especially barbarous and medi- 
eval, where the bourgeois-democratic revolution has not 
been consummated — there, in Russia, recognition of the 
right of nations oppressed by tsarism to free secession from 
Russia is absolutely obligatory for Social-Democrats, for 
the furtherance of their democratic and socialist aims. Our 
Party, re-established in January 1912, adopted a resolution 
in 1913 60 reaffirming the right to self-determination and 
explaining it in precisely the above concrete sense. The 
rampage of Great-Russian chauvinism in 1914-16 both 
among the bourgeoisie and among the opportunist socialists 
(Rubanovich, Plekhanov, Nashe Dyelo, etc.) has given us 
even more reason to insist on this demand and to regard those 
who deny it as actual supporters of Great-Russian chauvinism 
and tsarism. Our Party declares that it most emphatically 
declines to accept any responsibility for such actions against 
the right to self-determination. 



The latest formulation of the position of the Polish Social- 
Democrats on the national question (the declaration of the 
Polish Social-Democrats at the Zimmerwald Conference) 
contains the following ideas: 

The declaration condemns the German and other govern- 
ments that regard the "Polish regions" as a pawn in the 
forthcoming compensation game, "depriving the Polish 
people of the opportunity of deciding their own fate themselves". 
"Polish Social-Democrats resolutely and solemnly protest 
against the carving up and parcelling out of a whole country' 

They flay the socialists who left it to the Hohenzollerns 

"to liberate the oppressed peoples". They express the convic- 
tion that only participation in the approaching struggle 
of the international revolutionary proletariat, the struggle 
for socialism, "will break the fetters of national oppression 
and destroy all forms of foreign rule, will ensure for the 
Polish people the possibility of free all-round development 
as an equal member of a concord of nations". The declara- 
tion recognises that "for the Poles" the war is "doubly frat- 
ricidal". (Bulletin of the International Socialist Committee 
No. 2, September 27, 1915, p. 15. Russian translation in 
the symposium The International and the War, p. 97.) 

These propositions do not differ in substance from recogni- 
tion of the right of nations to self-determination, although 
their political formulations are even vaguer and more 
indeterminate than those of most programmes and resolu- 
tions of the Second International. Any attempt to express 
these ideas as precise political formulations and to define 
their applicability to the capitalist system or only to the 
socialist system will show even more clearly the mistake 
the Polish Social-Democrats make in denying the self- 
determination of nations. 

The decision of the London International Socialist Con- 
gress of 1896, which recognised the self-determination of 
nations, should be supplemented on the basis of the above 
theses by specifying: (1) the particular urgency of this 
demand under imperialism, (2) the political conventionalism 
and class content of all the demands of political democracy, 
the one under discussion included, (3) the necessity to dis- 
tinguish the concrete tasks of the Social-Democrats of the 
oppressor nations from those of the Social-Democrats of the 



oppressed nations, (4) the inconsistent, purely verbal 
recognition of self-determination by the opportunists and the 
Kautskyites, which is, therefore, hypocritical in its political 
significance, (5) the actual identity of the chauvinists and 
those Social-Democrats, especially those of the Great Powers 
(Great Russians, Anglo-Americans, Germans, French, Ital- 
ians, Japanese, etc.), who do not uphold the freedom to 
secede for colonies and nations oppressed by "their own" 
nations, (6) the necessity to subordinate the struggle for the 
demand under discussion and for all the basic demands of 
political democracy directly to the revolutionary mass 
struggle for the overthrow of the bourgeois governments and 
for the achievement of socialism. 

The introduction into the International of the viewpoint 
of certain small nations, especially that of the Polish 
Social-Democrats, who have been led by their struggle against 
the Polish bourgeoisie, which deceives the people with its 
nationalist slogans, to the incorrect denial of self-determi- 
nation, would be a theoretical mistake, a substitution of 
Proudhonism for Marxism implying in practice involuntary 
support for the most dangerous chauvinism and opportun- 
ism of the Great-Power nations. 

Editorial Board of Sotsial-Demokrat, 
Central Organ of R.S.D.L.P. 

Postscript. In Die Neue Zeit for March 3, 1916, which 
has just appeared, Kautsky openly holds out the hand of 
Christian reconciliation to Austerlitz, a representative of 
the foulest German chauvinism, rejecting freedom of sepa- 
ration for the oppressed nations of Hapsburg Austria but 
recognising it for Russian Poland, as a menial service to 
Hindenburg and Wilhelm II. One could not have wished for 
a better self-exposure of Kautskyism! 

Written January-February 1916 

Printed in April 1916 in 
the magazine Vorbote No. 2 

Printed in Russian in October 1916 
in Sbornik Sotsial-Demokrata No. 1 

Published according to 
the Sbornik text 



Dear Comrades, 

The recent No. 25 issue (the second to come out during 
the war) of Gazeta Robotnicza,^ the organ of the opposition 
of the Polish Social-Democratic Party, carries the resolu- 
tions of their conference (a conference of the Editorial 
Board) adopted back in June 1915. 

These resolutions clearly show that as a body (we say 
nothing of its members as individuals, some of whom are 
doing extremely useful work in the German Social-Demo- 
cratic press), the Polish Social-Democrats are once again 
vacillating in a most spineless manner. 

There's not a word against Kautskyism, not a word about 
any determined and resolute struggle against opportunism, 
as the source and buttress of social-chauvinism!! This can 
be read in one way only: they are prepared once again (as in 
Brussels, July 3-16, 1914 62 ) "to play ball" with the Kautsky- 

We quote the main (IV) resolution in full. Here it is: 

Gazeta Robotnicza P.S.D. (of the opposition) No. 25 
(January 1916). "Resolutions of the Editorial Board confer- 
ence held on June 1-2, 1915." 

IV. The Attitude of the Social-Democrats of Poland and 
Lithuania to the R.S.D.L.P.* 

"The Polish revolutionary Social-Democrats regard the 
Central Committee of the R.S.D.L.P. as a body consisting 

* The Gazeta Robotnicza resolution was translated by N. K. Krup- 
skaya. The words in bold-face type here are Lenin's additions and 
corrections to the translation from the Polish. — Ed. 



of the most resolute revolutionary internationalist elements 
in Russia, and, while leaving it to the regional organisation 
to settle its organisational relations with it in the future, 
will give it political support and co-ordinate their activity 
with it. 

"The common revolutionary stand of the Polish Social- 
Democrats and the Central Committee on the main essential 
[wytycznych (definite?)] points of their policy makes it in- 
cumbent on the Social-Democrats of Poland and Lithuania to 
continue taking a critical attitude to its obvious tactical 
exaggerations [wybujaiosci ("wild" growth of corn, etc.)]. 

"While justly desiring to emphasise the proletariat's 
unquestionably hostile attitude to tsarism's plunderous 
policy, the Central Committee puts forward the slogan of 
Russia's defeat, basing it on the especially reactionary part 
tsarism has to play in Europe and the specific significance 
of a Russian revolution; however, this brings the Central 
Committee into contradiction with the method of interna- 
tionalism, which does not allow proletarian hopes and tasks 
to be pinned on any definite outcome of the war, and even 
provides the German social-patriots with arguments. 

"While justly noting the need for revolutionary action 
to build a new International, while justly opposing every 
attempt to gloss over the conflict, and piece together the 
broken old International, the C.C., however, overrate the 
importance of automatically fencing themselves off from all 
less resolute elements which do not accept their standpoint 
a priori, and forget [przeocza] that the task of the revolu- 
tionary camp [obozu] must not be to repulse these elements 
but to draw them into the struggle against the fraud [szal- 
bierstwem] of social-patriotism, and to promote their radi- 
calisation by sharply criticising their ideological insta- 

"As for the O.C. (R.S.D.L.P), the conference [narada] 
reaffirms that its main group, which is in Russia, and also 
its literary representative [ekspozytura literacka] take the 
social-patriotic standpoint, and that its weak international- 
ist wing has neither the strength nor the courage to break 
with the social-patriots, and that the O.C. Centre takes the 
pacifist standpoint; the conference considers that the atti- 
tude of the Social-Democrats of Poland and Lithuania to 



the O.C. can consist exclusively of criticism of its position, 
promoting its disintegration [rozkiadu] and separating from 
the O.C. its internationalist elements grouped around 
Nashe Slovo, an organ which has done a great deal to elab- 
orate [crystallise] internationalist-revolutionary views in 
the ranks of the R.S.D.L.P. 

"The same applies, in particular, also to the Bund, which 
is a part of the O.C, for its attitude is an even greater chaotic 
mixture of social-patriotic and pacifist, Russophile and 
Germanophile elements." 

The Polish Social-Democrats say here that they wish to 
"co-ordinate" their activity with the Central Committee. 

We believe it to be our unquestionable duty to tell the 
Central Committee this: the Central Committee must not and 
cannot "co-ordinate" their activity with the P.S.D. 

Why not? 

Because the P.S.D. is vacillating again and again, for the 
nth time (or playing a game, which is objectively the same 
thing) on our Party's cardinal question. There is no doubt 
that the key issue in the Russian Social-Democratic movement 
today is that of the split. 

On this point we are adamant, because the entire experi- 
ence of the Social-Democratic movement in Russia, especially 
in the 1903-09 period, and even more between 1910 and 
1914, and most of all in the years 1915 and 1916, has served 
to convince us that unity with the O.C. (or with the Chkheidze 
group, which is the same thing) is harmful to the working- 
class movement, and ensures its subjugation to the bour- 

The war and Gvozdyovism 63 have provided the final proof. 

But it is on this chief, basic and fundamental issue that 
the Polish Social-Democrats are again equivocating. 

They say not a word about the war having convinced them 
of the need for a split and of the erroneousness of their tactics 
at Brussels (July 3-16, 1914). 

On the contrary, they have inserted in the resolution 
a phrase which looks as if it had been deliberately worded 
to justify and do another "Brussels" desertion to the O.C. 
or Chkheidze. Here it is: 

"The Central Committee overrate the importance of auto- 
matically fencing themselves off...." 



That is the whole point. The rest is just rhetoric. If the 
Central Committee "overrate" the need for a split, it is 
clear that the P.S.D. are entitled today or tomorrow to vote 
again for another Brussels-Kautskyite "unity" resolution. 

It is the same old Tyszka trick, 64 the old game between 
the C.C. and the O.C., the old eclectical (to put it mildly) 
use of the pendulum position. 

We have no objection at all to working with the P.S.D., 
either in general, or in the Zimmerwald Left in particular; 
nor do we defend every letter of our resolutions; but we are 
adamant on (1) the split in Russia and (2) that there be no 
reconciliation with Kautskyism in Europe. We consider it to 
be our duty to warn all comrades that the Polish Social- 
Democrats are unreliable, and to insist that the C.C. must 
not let itself be drawn once again into a repetition of "Brus- 
sels" experiments, or trust the authors of these experiments 
or participants in them. 

With comradely greetings, CO. A. 

Written February-March 1916 

_ First published in 1937 
in Lenin Miscellany XXX 

Published according 
to the manuscript 



The question of the Social-Democratic peace programme 
is one of the most important on the agenda of the Second 
International Conference of the Zimmerwald group. 65 In 
order to bring home to the reader its essentials let us quote 
a pertinent declaration by Kautsky, a most authoritative 
representative of the Second International and a most author- 
itative champion of the social-chauvinists in all countries. 

"The International is not a fit war-time instrument; it 
is, essentially, an instrument of peace.... The fight for peace, 

class struggle in peace time " (Die Neue Zeit, November 

27, 1914). "All peace programmes formulated by the Inter- 
national, the programmes of the Copenhagen, London and 
Vienna congresses, all demand, and quite rightly, recogni- 
tion of the independence of nations. This demand must 
also serve as our compass in the present war" (ibid., May 21, 

These few words excellently express the "programme" of 
international social-chauvinist unity and conciliation. Ev- 
erybody knows that Siidekum's friends and adherents met in 
Vienna and acted entirely in his spirit, championing the 
cause of German imperialism under the cloak of "defence 
of the fatherland". The French, English and Russian Siide- 
kums met in London and championed the cause of "their" 
national imperialisms under the same cloak. The real policy 
of the London and Vienna heroes of social-chauvinism is 
to justify participation in the imperialist war, to justify 
the killing of German workers by French workers, and vice 
versa, over which national bourgeoisie shall have the 
advantage in robbing other countries. And to conceal their 
real policy, to deceive the workers, both the London and 



the Vienna heroes resort to the phrase, we "recognise" the 
"independence of nations" or in other words, recognise the 
self-determination of nations, repudiate annexations, etc., 

It is as clear as daylight that this "recognition" is a fla- 
grant lie and foul hypocrisy, for it justifies participation in 
a war waged by both sides to enslave nations, not to make 
them independent. Instead of exposing, unmasking and con- 
demning this hypocrisy, Kautsky, the great authority, 
sanctifies it. To Kautsky, the unanimous desire of the chau- 
vinists who have betrayed socialism to deceive the workers, 
is proof of the "unanimity" and viability of the International 
on the question of peace!!! Kautsky converts crude, patent, 
flagrant, nationalist hypocrisy, which is so obvious to the 
workers, into subtle, disguised, internationalist hypocrisy, 
designed to blind the workers. Kautsky's policy is a hundred 
times more harmful and dangerous to the labour movement 
than Siidekum's policy; Kautsky's hypocrisy is a hundred 
times more repulsive. 

This does not apply to Kautsky alone. The policy pursued 
by Axelrod, Martov and Chkheidze in Russia, by Longuet 
and Pressemane in France, Treves in Italy, etc., is essen- 
tially the same. Objectively, this policy means fostering 
bourgeois lies among the working class; it means inculcat- 
ing bourgeois ideas upon the proletariat. That both Siide- 
kum and Plekhanov merely repeat the bourgeois lies of the 
capitalists of "their" respective nations is obvious; but it 
is not so obvious that Kautsky sanctifies these lies and ranks 
them as the "supreme truth" of a "unanimous" International. 
That the workers should regard the Siidekums and Plekha- 
novs authoritative and unanimous "socialists" who have 
temporarily fallen out is exactly what the bourgeoisie wants. 
That's the very thing the bourgeoisie wants; it wants the 
workers diverted from the revolutionary struggle in war-time 
by means of hypocritical, idle and non-committal phrases 
about peace; it wants them lulled and soothed by hopes 
of "peace without annexations", a democratic peace, etc., 

Huysmans has merely popularised Kautsky's peace 
programme, adding courts of arbitration, democratisation of 
foreign policies, etc., whereas the first and fundamental 



point of a socialist peace programme must be to unmask the 
hypocrisy of the Kautskyist peace programme, which 
strengthens bourgeois influence on the proletariat. 

Let us recall the fundamental postulates of socialist 
doctrine distorted by the Kautskyites. War is the continua- 
tion, by violent means, of the politics pursued by the ruling 
classes of the belligerent powers long before the outbreak 
of war. Peace is a continuation of the very same politics, 
with a record of the changes brought about in the relation of 
the rival forces by the military operations. War does not 
alter the direction of pre-war policies, but only accelerates 
their development. 

The war of 1870-71 was a continuation of the progressive 
bourgeois policy (which had been pursued for decades) of 
liberating and uniting Germany. The debacle and overthrow 
of Napoleon III hastened that liberation. The peace pro- 
gramme of the socialists of that epoch took this progressive 
bourgeois result into account and advocated support for 
the democratic bourgeoisie, urging no plunder of France 
and an honourable peace with the republic. 

What a clownish attempt to ape this example in the atmos- 
phere of the imperialist war of 1914-16! This war is a con- 
tinuation of the politics of a rotten-ripe reactionary bour- 
geoisie, which has plundered the world, seized colonies, 
etc. Owing to the objective situation, the present war 
cannot, on the basis of bourgeois relations, lead to any demo- 
cratic "progress"; whatever its outcome, this war can do 
nothing but intensify and extend oppression in general, and 
national oppression in particular. 

That war accelerated development in a democratic bour- 
geois-progressive direction; it resulted in the overthrow of 
Napoleon III and in the unification of Germany. This war is 
accelerating development only in the direction of the social- 
ist revolution. At that time, the programme of a demo- 
cratic (bourgeois) peace had an objective historical basis. 
Now, there is no such basis, and all phrases about a demo- 
cratic peace are a bourgeois lie, the objective purpose of 
which is to divert the workers from the revolutionary strug- 
gle for socialism! At that time, the socialists, with their 
programme of a democratic peace, supported a deep-going 
bourgeois-democratic movement of the masses (for the over- 



throw of Napoleon III and the unification of Germany), 
which had been in evidence for decades. Now, with their 
programme of a democratic peace on the basis of bourgeois 
relations, the socialists are helping the bourgeoisie to 
deceive the people so as to divert the proletariat from the 
socialist revolution. 

Just as phrases about "defence of the fatherland" fraudu- 
lently inculcate upon the masses the ideology of a national 
liberation war, so phrases about a democratic peace smuggle 
in that very same bourgeois lie. 

"That means that you have no peace programme, that 
you are opposed to democratic demands," the Kautskyites 
argue, hoping that inattentive people will not notice that 
this objection substitutes non-existent bourgeois-democratic 
tasks for the existing socialist tasks. 

Oh no, gentlemen, we reply to the Kautskyites. We are 
in favour of democratic demands, we alone are fighting for 
them sincerely, for because of the objective historical situa- 
tion they cannot be advanced except in connection with the 
socialist revolution. Take, for example, the "compass" used 
by Kautsky and Co. for the bourgeois deception of the 

Siidekum and Plekhanov are "unanimous" in their "peace 
programme". Down with annexations! Support the indepen- 
dence of nations! And note this . The Siidekums are right 
when they say that Russia's attitude towards Poland, 
Finland, etc., is annexationist. Plekhanov is right, too, 
when he says that Germany's attitude towards Alsace- 
Lorraine, Serbia, Belgium, etc., is also annexationist. 
Both are right, are they not? And in this way Kautsky 
"reconciles" the German Siidekums with the Russian 

But every alert worker will see at once that Kautsky and 
both types of Siidekum are hypocrites. This is obvious. The 
duty of a socialist is not to make peace with hypocritical 
democracy, but to unmask it. How can it be unmasked? 
Very simply. "Recognition" of the independence of nations 
can be regarded as sincere only where the representative 
of the oppressor nation has demanded, both before and 
during the war, freedom of secession for the nation which 
is oppressed by his own "fatherland". 



This demand alone is in accord with Marxism. Marx 
advanced it in the interests of the British proletariat when he 
demanded freedom for Ireland, although he assumed the 
probability of a federation following upon secession. In 
other words, he did not demand the right of secession for the 
sake of splitting and isolating countries, but to create more 
durable and democratic ties. In all cases where there are 
oppressed and oppressing nations, where no special circum- 
stances distinguish revolutionary-democratic nations from 
reactionary nations (as was the case in the forties of the nine- 
teenth century), Marx's policy in relation to Ireland must 
serve as a model for proletarian policy. But imperialism is 
the epoch in which the division of nations into oppressors 
and oppressed is essential and typical, and it is quite impos- 
sible to draw any distinction between reactionary and revo- 
lutionary nations in Europe. 

As early as 1913, our Party, in a resolution on the nation- 
al question, made it the duty of Social-Democrats to apply 
the concept of self-determination in the sense here indicated. 
We have been fully vindicated by the war of 1914-16. 

Take Kautsky's latest article in Die Neue Zeit of March 
3, 1916. He makes no bones about being in agreement with 
Austerlitz, the notorious, German ultra-chauvinist in Aus- 
tria, the editor of the chauvinist Vienna Arbeiter Zeitung, 66 
when he says that "a nation's independence must not be 
confused with its sovereignty". In other words, national 
autonomy within a "state of nationalities" is good enough 
for the oppressed nations, and it is not necessary to demand 
for them an equal right to political independence. In this 
very article, however, Kautsky asserts that it is impossible 
to prove that "it is essential for the Poles to belong to the 
Russian state"!!! 

What does he mean? He means that to please Hindenburg, 
Siidekum, Austerlitz and Co., he recognises Poland's right 
to secede from Russia, although Russia is a "state of 
nationalities" but not a word does he say about freedom for 
the Poles to secede from Germany!!! In this very same 
article Kautsky declares that the French socialists had de- 
parted from internationalism by wanting to achieve the 
freedom of Alsace-Lorraine by means of war. But he says 
nothing about the German Siidekums and Co. having deviated 



from internationalism by refusing to demand freedom for 
Alsace-Lorraine to secede from Germany] 

Kautsky employs "state of nationalities" — a catchword 
that can be applied both to Britain in relation to Ireland 
and to Germany in relation to Poland, Alsace-Lorraine, etc. — 
for the obvious purpose of defending social-chauvinism. He 
has converted the fight-against-annexations" slogan into a 
"programme of peace" ... with the chauvinists, and a glaring 
hypocrisy. In this same article, mealy-mouthed Kautsky 
reiterates, "The International has never ceased to demand 
the consent of the population concerned, when state fron- 
tiers are moved." Is it not clear that Sudekum and Co. 
demand the "consent" of the Alsatians and Belgians to be 
annexed to Germany, and that Austerlitz and Co. demand 
the "consent" of the Poles and Serbs to be annexed to 

And what about the Russian Kautskyite, Martov? He 
wrote to the Gvozdyovist journal, Nash Golos 61 (Samara), 
to prove the indisputable truth that the self-determination 
of nations does not necessarily imply defence of the father- 
land in an imperialist war. But Martov says nothing about 
the fact that a Russian Social-Democrat betrays the prin- 
ciple of self-determination if he does not demand the right 
of secession for the nations oppressed by the Great Russians, 
and in this way Martov extends the hand of peace to the 
Alexinskys, the Gvozdyovs, the Potresovs, and the Ple- 
khanovs! Nor has Martov said anything on this point in 
the illegal press ! He argues against the Dutchman Gorter, 
although Gorter, while wrongly repudiating the principle of 
self-determination of nations, applies it correctly by demand- 
ing political independence for the Dutch Indies and by 
unmasking the betrayal of socialism by the Dutch opportunists 
who disagree with this demand. Martov, however, does not 
argue against his co-secretary, Semkovsky, who from 1912 
to 1915 was the only writer in the liquidationist press who 
dealt with this issue and repudiated the right of secession 
and self-determination in general! 

Is it not plain that Martov "advocates" self-determina- 
tion just as hypocritically as Kautsky does, that he, 
too, covers up his desire to make peace with the chau- 



What about Trotsky? He is body and soul for self-deter- 
mination, but in his case, too, it is an empty phrase, for he 
does not demand freedom of secession for nations oppressed 
by the "fatherland" of the socialist of the given national- 
ity; he is silent about the hypocrisy of Kautsky and his 

This kind of "struggle against annexations" serves to 
deceive the workers and not to explain the programme of the 
Social-Democrats, it is an evasion of the problem and not a 
concrete indication of the duty of internationalists; it is 
not a struggle against nationalism but a concession to 
nationalist prejudices and to the selfish interests of nation- 
alism ("we" all, bourgeois and social-chauvinists alike, derive 
"benefits" from "our" fatherland's oppression of other 

The "peace programme" of Social-Democracy must, in 
the first place, unmask the hypocrisy of the bourgeois, 
social-chauvinist and Kautskyite talk about peace. This is 
the first and fundamental thing. Unless we do that we shall 
be, willy-nilly, helping to deceive the masses. Our "peace 
programme" demands that the principal democratic point 
of this question — the repudiation of annexations — should 
be applied in practice and not in words, that it should serve 
to promote the propaganda of internationalism and not of 
national hypocrisy. To do this, we must explain to the masses 
that the repudiation of annexations, i.e., the recognition 
of self-determination, is sincere only when the socialists 
of every nation demand the right of secession for nations 
oppressed by their own nations. As a positive slogan, drawing 
the masses into the revolutionary struggle and explaining 
the necessity for revolutionary measures to attain a "demo- 
cratic" peace, we must advance this slogan: repudiation of 
debts contracted by states. 

Finally, our "peace programme" must explain that the 
imperialist powers and the imperialist bourgeoisie cannot 
grant a democratic peace. Such a peace must be sought for 
and fought for, not in the past, not in a reactionary utopia 
of a reore-imperialist capitalism, not in a league of equal 
nations under capitalism, but in the future, in the socialist 
revolution of the proletariat. Not a single fundamental 
democratic demand can be achieved to any considerable 



extent, or with any degree of permanency, in the advanced 
imperialist states, except through revolutionary battles 
under the banner of socialism. 

Whoever promises the nations a "democratic" peace, 
without at the same time preaching the socialist revolution, 
or while repudiating the struggle for it — a struggle now, 
during the war — is deceiving the proletariat. 

Sotsial-Demokrat No. 52, 
March 25, 1916 

Published according to 
the Sotsial-Demokrat text 



(Theses on points 5, 6, 7a, 7b, and 8 of the agenda: the strug- 
gle to end the war; the attitude towards the problems of 
peace, parliamentary action and mass struggles, and the 
convocation of the International Socialist Bureau. 68 ) 

(The International Socialist Committee, in its notice 
convening the Second Conference, invited the affiliated 
organisations to discuss the above questions, and to send in 
their proposals. In reply to this invitation our Party submits 
the following theses.) 

1. Just as all war is but a continuation by violent means 
of the politics which the belligerent states and their ruling 
classes had been conducting for many years, sometimes 
for decades, before the outbreak of war, so the peace that 
ends any war can be nothing but a consideration and a 
record of the actual changes brought about in the relation 
of forces in the course of and as a result of the war. 

2. As long as the foundations of present, i.e., bourgeois, 
social relations remain intact, an imperialist war can lead 
only to an imperialist peace, i.e., to greater, more extensive 
and more intense oppression of weak nations and countries 
by finance capital, which grew to gigantic proportions not 
only in the period prior to the war, but also during the war. 
The objective content of the policies pursued by the bour- 
geoisie and the governments of both groups of Great Powers 
before and during the war leads to intensified economic 
oppression, national enslavement and political reaction. 
Therefore, provided the bourgeois social system remains, 



the peace that follows upon the war, whatever its outcome, 
must perpetuate this worsening of the economic and politi- 
cal condition of the masses. 

To assume that a democratic peace may emerge from an 
imperialist war is, in theory, to substitute vulgar phrases 
for an historical study of the policies conducted before and 
during that war. In practice, it is to deceive the masses 
of the people by beclouding their political consciousness, 
by covering up and prettifying the real policies pursued by 
the ruling classes to prepare the ground for the coming 
peace, by concealing from the masses the main thing, namely, 
that a democratic peace is impossible without a whole series 
of revolutions. 

3. Socialists do not refuse to fight for reform. Even now, 
for example, they must vote in parliament for improve- 
ments, however slight, in the condition of the masses, for 
increased relief to the inhabitants of the devastated areas, 
for the lessening of national oppression, etc. But it is sheer 
bourgeois deception to preach reforms as a solution for 
problems for which history and the actual political situ- 
ation demand revolutionary solutions. That is precisely the 
kind of problems the present war has brought to the fore. 
These are the fundamental questions of imperialism, i.e., 
the very existence of capitalist society, the questions of 
postponing the collapse of capitalism by a redivision of the 
world to correspond to the new relation of forces among the 
"Great" Powers, which in the last few decades have devel- 
oped, not only at fantastic speed, but — and this is particu- 
larly important — also with extreme unevenness. Real polit- 
ical activity working a change in the relation of social 
forces, and not merely deceiving the masses with words, is 
now possible only in one of two forms — either helping "one's 
own" national bourgeoisie to rob other countries (and call- 
ing this "defence of the fatherland" or "saving the country"), 
or assisting the proletarian socialist revolution, fostering 
and stirring up the ferment which is beginning among the 
masses in all the belligerent countries, aiding the incipient 
strikes and demonstrations, etc., extending and sharpening 
these as yet feeble expressions of revolutionary mass strug- 
gle into a general proletarian assault to overthrow the bour- 

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Just as all the social-chauvinists are at present deceiv- 
ing the people by covering up the real, i.e., imperialist, 
policy of the capitalists, which is being continued in the 
present war with hypocritical phrases about the "dishonest" 
attack and "honest" defence on the part of this or that 
group of predatory capitalists, so phrases about a "democrat- 
ic peace" serve only to deceive the people, as if the coming 
peace, which is already being prepared by the capitalists 
and diplomats, could "simply" abolish "dishonest" attacks 
and restore "honest" relations, and as if it would not be a 
continuation, a development, and a perpetuation of this 
very imperialist policy, i.e., a policy of financial looting, 
colonial robbery, national oppression, political reaction 
and intensified capitalist exploitation in every form. What 
the capitalists and their diplomats now need is "socialist" 
servants of the bourgeoisie to deafen, dupe and drug the people 
with talk about a "democratic peace" so as to cover up 
the real policy of the bourgeoisie, making it difficult for 
the masses to realise the real nature of this policy and 
diverting them from the revolutionary struggle. 

4. The "democratic" peace programme, in drafting which 
prominent representatives of the Second International are 
now engaged, is precisely such a piece of bourgeois deception 
and hypocrisy. For example, Huysmans at the Arnhem Con- 
gress 69 and Kautsky in Die Neue Zeit, the most authorita- 
tive, official, and "theoretical" spokesmen of this Inter- 
national, formulated this programme as suspension of the 
revolutionary struggle until the imperialist governments have 
concluded peace; in the meantime, there are verbal repudia- 
tion of annexations and indemnities, verbal recognition of 
the self-determination of nations, democratisation of foreign 
politics, courts of arbitration to examine international 
conflicts between states, disarmament, a United States of 
Europe, 70 etc., etc. The real political significance of this 
"peace programme" was revealed with particular force by 
Kautsky, when, to prove the "unanimity of the International" 
on this question, he cited the unanimous adoption by 
the London Conference (February 1915) and the Vienna 
Conference (April 1915) of the main point of this programme, 
namely, the "independence of nations". Kautsky, before 
the whole world, thus openly gave his sanction to the 



deliberate deception of the people perpetrated by the social- 
chauvinists, who combine verbal, hypocritical recognition 
of "independence" or self-determination of nations, recogni- 
tion that binds no one and leads nowhere, with support for 
"their own" governments in the imperialist war, notwith- 
standing the fact that on both sides the war is accompanied by 
systematic violations of the "independence" of weak nations 
and is being waged for the purpose of consolidating and 
extending their oppression. 

Objectively, this cheap "peace programme" reinforces 
the subjection of the working class to the bourgeoisie by 
"reconciling" the workers, who are beginning to develop a 
revolutionary struggle, with their chauvinist leaders, by 
underplaying the gravity of the crisis in the socialist move- 
ment to bring back the pre-war state of affairs in the social- 
ist parties which led the majority of the leaders to desert 
to the bourgeoisie. The fact that this "Kautskyite" policy 
is clothed in plausible phrases and that it is being conducted 
not only in Germany but in all countries, makes it all the 
more dangerous for the proletariat. In Britain, for instance, 
this policy is being pursued by the majority of the leaders; 
in France, by Longuet, Pressemane and others; in Russia, 
by Axelrod, Martov, Chkheidze and others; Chkheidze is 
screening the chauvinist idea of "defence of the country" 
in the present war with the "save the country" phrase, 
paying lip-service to Zimmerwald, on the one hand, and on 
the other, praising Huysmans's notorious Arnhem speech 
in an official declaration by his group; but neither from the 
floor of the Duma nor in the press has he actually opposed 
the participation of the workers in the war industries com- 
mittees, and remains on the staff of newspapers advocating 
such participation. In Italy, a similar policy is being pur- 
sued by Treves: see the threat made by Avanti!, 11 the Cen- 
tral Organ of the Italian Socialist Party, of March 5, 1916, 
to expose Treves and other "reformist-possibilists", to 
expose those "who resorted to every means to prevent the 
Party Executive and Oddino Morgari from taking action to 
secure unity at Zimmerwald and to create a new Interna- 
tional", etc., etc. 

5. The chief of the "peace questions" at the present time 
is that of annexations. It most strikingly reveals the now 



prevailing socialist hypocrisy and the tasks of real social- 
ist propaganda and agitation. 

It is necessary to explain the meaning of annexations, 
and why and how socialists must fight against them. Not 
every appropriation of "foreign" territory can be described 
as an annexation, for, generally speaking, socialists favour 
the abolition of frontiers between nations and the forma- 
tion of larger states; nor can every disturbance of the status 
quo be described as an annexation, for this would be ex- 
tremely reactionary and a mockery of the fundamental con- 
cepts of the science of history; nor can every military sei- 
zure of territory be called annexation, for socialists cannot 
repudiate violence and wars in the interests of the majority 
of the population. Annexation must apply only to the 
appropriation of territory against the will of the population 
of that territory; in other words, the concept of annexation 
is inseparably bound up with the concept of self-determi- 
nation of nations. 

The present war, however — precisely because it is an 
imperialist war insofar as both groups of belligerent powers 
are concerned — inevitably had to and did give rise to the 
phenomenon of the bourgeoisie and the social-chauvinists 
"fighting" violently against annexations when this is done 
by an enemy state. This kind of "struggle against annexa- 
tions" and this kind of "unanimity" of the question of 
annexation is plainly sheer hypocrisy. Obviously, the French 
socialists who defend war over Alsace-Lorraine, and the Ger- 
man socialists who do not demand freedom for Alsace-Lor- 
raine, for German Poland, etc., to separate from Germany, 
and the Russian socialists who describe the war being 
waged to return Poland to tsarist bondage as a war to "save 
the country", and who demand that Polish territory be an- 
nexed to Russia in the name of "peace without annexations", 
etc., etc., are in fact annexationists. 

To prevent the struggle against annexations from being 
mere hypocrisy, or an empty phrase, to make it really edu- 
cate the masses in the spirit of internationalism, the ques- 
tion must be presented in such a way as to open the eyes 
of the masses to the fraud in this matter of annexations, 
instead of covering it up. It is not enough for the socialists 
of each country to pay lip-service to the equality of nations 



or to orate, swear and invoke the name of God to witness 
their opposition to annexations. The socialists of every 
country must demand immediate and unconditional freedom 
to secede for the colonies and nations oppressed by their 
own "fatherland" . 

Without this condition, recognition of the self-determi- 
nation of nations and principles of internationalism would 
even in the Zimmerwald Manifesto, remain a dead letter, 
at best. 

6. The socialists' "peace programme", and their programme 
of "struggle to end the war", must proceed from the exposure 
of the lie of the "democratic peace", the pacific intentions 
of the belligerents, etc., now being spread among the people 
by demagogic ministers, pacifist bourgeois, social-chauvin- 
ists, and Kautskyites in all countries. Any "peace programme" 
will deceive the people and be a piece of hypocrisy, 
unless its principal object is to explain to the masses the 
need for a revolution, and to support, aid, and develop the 
mass revolutionary struggles breaking out everywhere 
(ferment among the masses, protests, fraternisation in the 
trenches, strikes, demonstrations, letters from the front to 
relatives — for example, in France — urging them not to 
subscribe to war loans, etc., etc.). 

It is the duty of socialists to support, extend and inten- 
sify every popular movement to end the war. But it is 
actually being fulfilled only by those socialists who, like 
Liebknecht, in their parliamentary speeches, call upon the 
soldiers to lay down their arms, and preach revolution and 
transformation of the imperialist war into a civil war for 

The positive slogan we must put forward to draw the 
masses into revolutionary struggle and to explain the neces- 
sity for revolutionary measures to make a "democratic" 
peace possible, is that of repudiation of debts incurred by 

It is not enough to hint at revolution, as the Zimmer- 
wald Manifesto does, by saying that the workers must make 
sacrifices for their own and not for someone else's cause. 
The masses must be shown their road clearly and definitely. 
They must know where to go and why. That mass revolu- 
tionary actions during the war, if successfully developed. 



can lead only to the transformation of the imperialist war 
into a civil war for socialism is obvious, and it is harmful 
to conceal this from the masses. On the contrary, this aim 
must be indicated clearly, no matter how difficult its attain- 
ment may appear now, while we are still at the beginning 
of the road. It is not enough to say, as the Zimmerwald 
Manifesto does, that "the capitalists lie when they speak about 
defence of the fatherland" in the present war, and that the 
workers in their revolutionary struggle must ignore their 
country's military situation; it is necessary to state clearly 
what is merely hinted at here, namely, that not only the 
capitalists, but also the social-chauvinists and the Kautsky- 
ites lie when they allow the term "defence of the father- 
land" to be applied in the present, imperialist war and that 
revolutionary action during the war is impossible unless 
"one's own" government is threatened with defeat; it must 
be stated clearly that every defeat of the government in 
a reactionary war facilitates revolution, which alone is 
capable of bringing about a lasting and democratic peace. 
Finally, the masses must be told that unless they themselves 
create illegal organisations and a press that is free from 
military censorship, i.e., an illegal press, it will be quite 
impossible to render serious support to the incipient revo- 
lutionary struggle, to develop it, to criticise some of its 
steps, to correct its errors and systematically to extend 
and sharpen it. 

7. On the question of socialist parliamentary action, it 
must be borne in mind that the Zimmerwald resolution not 
only expresses sympathy for the five Social-Democratic 
deputies in the State Duma, who belong to our Party, and 
who have been sentenced to exile to Siberia, but also 
expresses its solidarity with their tactics. It is impossible 
to recognise the revolutionary struggle of the masses while 
resting content with exclusively legal socialist activity in 
parliament. This can only arouse legitimate dissatisfaction 
among the workers, cause them to desert Social-Democracy 
for anti-parliamentary anarchism or syndicalism. It must 
be stated clearly and publicly that Social-Democratic mem- 
bers of parliament must use their position not only to make 
speeches in parliament, but also to render all possible aid 
outside parliament to the underground organisation and the 



revolutionary struggle of the workers, and that the masses 
themselves, through their illegal organisation, must super- 
vise these activities of their leaders. 

8. The question of the convocation of the International 
Socialist Bureau boils down to a fundamental question of 
principle, i.e., whether the old parties and the Second 
International can be united. Every step forward taken by the 
international labour movement along the road mapped out 
by Zimmerwald shows more and more clearly the inconsist- 
ency of the position adopted by the Zimmerwald majority; 
for, on the one hand, it identifies the policy of the old 
parties and of the Second International with bourgeois policy 
in the labour movement, with a policy which does not 
pursue the interests of the proletariat, but of the bourgeoisie 
(for example, the statement in the Zimmerwald Manifesto 
that the "capitalists" lie when they speak of "defence of 
the fatherland" in the present war; also the still more 
definite statements contained in the circular of the Interna- 
tional Socialist Committee of February 10, 1916 72 ); on 
the other hand, the International Socialist Committee is 
afraid of a break with the International Socialist Bureau 
and has promised officially to dissolve when the Bureau 

We state that not only was such a promise never voted 
on, but it was never even discussed in Zimmerwald. 

The six months since Zimmerwald have proved that 
actual work in the spirit of Zimmerwald — not empty phrases 
but work — is bound up throughout the world with the split 
that is becoming deeper and wider. In Germany, illegal 
anti-war leaflets are being printed despite the Party's deci- 
sions, i.e., schismatically. When Deputy Otto Riihle, Karl 
Liebknecht's closest friend, said openly that there were 
actually two parties in existence, one helping the bourgeoi- 
sie, and the other fighting against it, many, including the 
Kautskyites, reviled him, but no one refuted him. In France, 
Bourderon, a member of the Socialist Party, is a deter- 
mined opponent of a split, but at the same time he submits 
a resolution to his Party disapproving of the Party's Central 
Committee and of the parliamentary group (desapprouver 
Comm. Adm. Perm, et Gr. Pari.), which, if adopted, would 
certainly have caused an immediate split. In Britain, T. Rus- 


sell Williams, a member of the I.L.P., writing in the mod- 
erate Labour Leader, openly admits that a split is inevitable 
and finds support in letters written by local functionaries. 
The example of America is perhaps still more instructive, 
because even there, in a neutral country, two irreconcilably 
hostile trends in the Socialist Party have become revealed: 
on the one hand, the adherents of so-called "preparedness",* 
i.e., war, militarism, and navalism, and on the other, 
socialists like Eugene Debs, former presidential candidate 
from the Socialist Party, who openly preaches civil war for 
socialism, precisely in connection with the coming war. 

Actually, there is already a split throughout the world; 
two entirely irreconcilable working-class policies in rela- 
tion to the war have crystallised. We must not close our 
eyes to this fact; to do so would only result in confusing 
the masses of the workers, in befogging their minds, in hin- 
dering the revolutionary mass struggle with which all 
Zimmerwaldists officially sympathise, and in strengthening 
the influence over the masses of those leaders whom the 
International Socialist Committee, in its circular of Feb- 
ruary 10, 1916, openly accuses of "misleading" the masses 
and of hatching a "plot" (Pakt) against socialism. 

It is the social-chauvinists and Kautskyites of all coun- 
tries who will undertake the task of restoring the bankrupt 
International Socialist Bureau. The task of the socialists 
is to explain to the masses the inevitability of a split with 
those who pursue a bourgeois policy under the flag of social- 

Written February-March 1916 
Published on April 22, 1916 Published according 

in Bulletin. Internationale Sozialistische to the manuscript 

Kommission zu Bern No. 4 

Published in Russian on June 10, 
1916 in Sotsial-Demokrat No. 54-55 

* The word is in English in the original. — Ed. 



That was how Sotsial-Demokrat posed the alternative 
with regard to the German Social-Democratic Party, back 
in its issue No. 35,* when it elaborated the fundamental 
ideas of the Manifesto on war issued by our Party's Central 
Committee.** Notice how the facts bear out this conclu- 

The German Social-Democratic Party is clearly disinte- 
grating. Otto Riihle, Karl Liebknecht's closest associate 
quite apart from the I.S.D. group (International Socialists 
of Germany), 74 which has been consistently fighting the 
hypocritical Kautskyites, has openly come out for a split. 
Vorwarts had no serious, honest answer. There are actually 
two workers' parties in Germany. 

Even in Britain, a statement was made by T. Russell 
Williams in the moderate, pacifist Labour Leader (the Cen- 
tral Organ of the Independent Labour Party), and he was 
supported by many local functionaries. Comrade Ornatsky, 75 
who has done very good internationalist work in Britain 
came out in the conciliatory Nashe Slovo in Paris for an im- 
mediate split there. We are naturally in full agreement with 
Ornatsky in his polemic with T. Rothstein, a correspondent 
of Kommunist , 76 who takes a Kautskyite attitude. 

In France, Bourderon is a fervent opponent of any split 
but — has proposed to the Party Congress a resolution calling 
for outright disapproval both of the Party's Central Com- 
mittee and the parliamentary group! Adoption of such a 
resolution would mean an immediate split in the Party. 

* See present edition. Vol. 21, "The War and Russian Social- 
Democracy". — Ed. 

* * Ibid. , "Dead Chauvinism and Living Socialism". — Ed. 



In America, the Socialist Party appears to be united. 
Actually, some of its members, like Russell and others, 
preach "preparedness", stand for war, and want an army and 
navy. Others, like Eugene Debs, the Party's presidential 
candidate, openly preach civil war "in the event" of an im- 
perialist war, rather, in connection with one. 

There are now actually two parties all over the world. 
There are in fact already two Internationals. And if the 
Zimmerwald majority are afraid to recognise this, if they 
dream of unity with the social-chauvinists, and declare 
their readiness to have such unity, these "pious hopes" in 
practice remain nothing but hopes, expressive of inconsist- 
ency and timidity of thought. Consciousness lags behind 

Written February-April 1916 

First published in 1931 
in Lenin Miscellany XVII 

Published according 
to the manuscript 



The German chauvinists, as we know, have succeeded in 
imposing their influence upon the overwhelming majority of 
the leaders and officers of the so-called Social-Democratic 
— now, in fact, National-Liberal — Labour Party. We shall 
see presently how far this applies also to the non-German 
chauvinists like Potresov, Levitsky and Co. At the moment 
we must deal with the German chauvinists, among whom, 
in fairness, Kautsky must also be included, notwithstand- 
ing the fact that P. B. Axelrod, in his German pamphlet 
for example, very assiduously and very incorrectly defends 
Kautsky and calls him an "internationalist". 

One of the characteristics of German chauvinism is that 
"socialists" — socialists in quotation marks — talk about the 
independence of nations, except those which are oppressed 
by their own nation. It does not make very much difference 
whether they say so directly, or whether they defend, 
justify and shield those who say it. 

The German chauvinists (who include Parvus, the pub- 
lisher of a little magazine, called Die Glocke, among whose 
contributors are Lensch, Haenisch, Griinwald and all the 
rest of the crew of "socialist" lackeys of the German imperial- 
ist bourgeoisie) speak at great length and very eagerly, for 
example, about independence for the peoples oppressed by 
Britain. It is not only the social-chauvinists of Germany, 
i.e., socialists in words, and chauvinists in deeds, but 
the whole bourgeois press of Germany that is trumpeting 
with all its might about the shameful, brutal and reac- 
tionary, etc., fashion in which Britain rules her colonies. The 
German newspapers write about the liberation movement 
in India with great gusto, malicious glee, delight and 



It is easy to see why the German bourgeoisie is full of 
malicious joy: it hopes to improve its military position 
by fanning the discontent and the anti-British movement in 
India. These hopes are silly, of course, because it is simply 
impossible seriously to entertain the idea of influencing 
the life of a multi-million people, and a very peculiar people 
at that, from outside, from afar, in a foreign language, par- 
ticularly when the influence is not systematic, but casual, 
only for the duration of the war. Rather than the desire to 
influence India the efforts of the German imperialist bour- 
geoisie are more of an attempt at self-consolation, more of a 
desire to fool the German people and to divert their atten- 
tion from home to foreign parts. 

But this general, theoretical question automatically 
arises: What is at the root of the falsehood of such argu- 
ments; how can the hypocrisy of the German imperialists 
be exposed with unerring certainty? The correct theoretical 
answer pointing to the root of falsehood always serves as a 
means of exposing the hypocrites who, for reasons all too 
obvious, are inclined to cover up their falsehood, to obscure 
it, to clothe it in flowery phrases, all sorts of phrases, phrases 
about everything in the world, even about internationalism. 
Even the Lensches, Siidekums and Scheidemanns, all these 
agents of the German bourgeoisie, who, unfortunately, 
belong to the so-called "Social-Democratic" Party of Germany, 
insist that they are internationalists. Men must not be 
judged by their words, however, but by their deeds. This 
is a home truth. Will anyone in Russia judge Potresov, 
Levitsky, Bulkin and Co. by their words? Of course, not. 

The falsehood of the German chauvinists has its roots in 
their shouting their sympathy for the independence of the 
peoples oppressed by Britain, their enemy in the war, and 
modestly, sometimes much too modestly, keeping silent 
about the independence of the peoples oppressed by their 
own nation. 

Take the Danes. When Prussia annexed Schleswig she 
also seized, as all "Great" Powers are wont to do, a part in- 
habited by Danes. The violation of the rights of this popu- 
lation was so patent that when Austria ceded to Prussia her 
"rights" to Schleswig under the Peace of Prague, August 
23-30, 1866, the treaty stipulated that the population of the 



northern part of the province was to be asked in a plebiscite 
whether they wished to join Denmark and were to be joined 
to Denmark in the event of a vote to that effect. This condi- 
tion, however, was not fulfilled by Prussia who, in 1878, 
had this "unpleasant" clause deleted. 

Frederick Engels, who was never indifferent to the chau- 
vinism of Great-Power nations, specifically pointed to this 
violation of the rights of a small nation by Prussia. 78 But 
the present-day German social-chauvinists, while recognis- 
ing the right to self-determination of nations in words, as 
Kautsky also does, have never carried on any consistently- 
democratic and resolutely-democratic agitation in favour 
of liberating an oppressed nation when that oppression was 
exercised by "their own" nation. That is the whole secret, 
the kernel of the question of chauvinism and of its exposure. 

A once popular pun in Russia was that Russkoye Znamya 19 
frequently behaved like Prusskoye Znamya* But this does 
not apply to Russkoye Znamya alone; for Potresov, Levitsky 
and Co. reason in Russia in the very same way as Lensch, 
Kautsky and Co. reason in Germany. Take a look in the 
liquidationist Rabocheye Utro, for example, and you will 
find similar "Prussian", or rather, international-chauvinist 
arguments and methods of reasoning. Chauvinism remains 
true to itself, whatever its national brand, whatever its 
pacifist cover-up phrase. 

Published on May 31, 1916 Published according 

in Voprosy Strakhovania No. 5 (54) to the manuscript 

* Russkoye Znamya — Russian Banner, Prusskoye Znamya — Prus- 
sian Banner. — Ed. 



Written January-June 1916 

First published in mid-1917 Published according to the 

in pamphlet form, manuscript and verified with 

Petrograd the text of the pamphlet 



The pamphlet here presented to the reader was written 
in the spring of 1916, in Zurich. In the conditions in which 
I was obliged to work there I naturally suffered somewhat 
from a shortage of French and English literature and from 
a serious dearth of Russian literature. However, I made 
use of the principal English work on imperialism, the book 
by J. A. Hobson, with all the care that, in my opinion, that 
work deserves. 

This pamphlet was written with an eye to the tsarist 
censorship. Hence, I was not only forced to confine myself 
strictly to an exclusively theoretical, specifically economic 
analysis of facts, but to formulate the few necessary obser- 
vations on politics with extreme caution, by hints, in an 
allegorical language — in that accursed Aesopian language — 
to which tsarism compelled all revolutionaries to have re- 
course whenever they took up the pen to write a "legal" 

It is painful, in these days of liberty, to re-read the pas- 
sages of the pamphlet which have been distorted, cramped, 
compressed in an iron vice on account of the censor. That 
the period of imperialism is the eve of the socialist revolu- 
tion; that social-chauvinism (socialism in words, chauvin- 
ism in deeds) is the utter betrayal of socialism, complete 
desertion to the side of the bourgeoisie; that this split in 
the working-class movement is bound up with the objective 
conditions of imperialism, etc. — on these matters I had to 
speak in a "slavish" tongue, and I must refer the reader who 
is interested in the subject to the articles I wrote abroad in 
1914-17, a new edition of which is soon to appear. Special 
attention should be drawn to a passage on pages 119-20.* 

See pp. 297-98 of this volume.— Ed. 



In order to show the reader, in a guise acceptable to the 
censors, how shamelessly untruthful the capitalists and the 
social-chauvinists who have deserted to their side (and whom 
Kautsky opposes so inconsistently) are on the question of 
annexations; in order to show how shamelessly they screen 
the annexations of their capitalists, I was forced to quote as 
an example — Japan! The careful reader will easily substi- 
tute Russia for Japan, and Finland, Poland, Courland, the 
Ukraine, Khiva, Bokhara, Estonia or other regions peopled 
by non-Great Russians, for Korea. 

I trust that this pamphlet will help the reader to under- 
stand the fundamental economic question, that of the eco- 
nomic essence of imperialism, for unless this is studied 
it will be impossible to understand and appraise modern war 
and modern politics. 


Petrograd, April 26, 1917 






As was indicated in the preface to the Russian edition, 
this pamphlet was written in 1916, with an eye to the tsarist 
censorship. I am unable to revise the whole text at the 
present time, nor, perhaps, would this be advisable, since 
the main purpose of the book was, and remains, to present, 
on the basis of the summarised returns of irrefutable bour- 
geois statistics, and the admissions of bourgeois scholars 
of all countries, a composite picture of the world capitalist 
system in its international relationships at the beginning 
of the twentieth century — on the eve of the first world impe- 
rialist war. 

To a certain extent it will even be useful for many Com- 
munists in advanced capitalist countries to convince them- 
selves by the example of this pamphlet, legal from the stand- 
point of the tsarist censor, of the possibility, and necessity, 
of making use of even the slight remnants of legality which 
still remain at the disposal of the Communists, say, in con- 
temporary America or France, after the recent almost 
wholesale arrests of Communists, in order to explain the utter 
falsity of social-pacifist views and hopes for "world democ- 
racy". The most essential of what should be added to this 
censored pamphlet I shall try to present in this preface. 


It is proved in the pamphlet that the war of 1914-18 was 
imperialist (that is, an annexationist, predatory, war of 
plunder) on the part of both sides; it was a war for the 



division of the world, for the partition and repartition of 
colonies and spheres of influence of finance capital, etc. 

Proof of what was the true social, or rather, the true 
class character of the war is naturally to be found, not in 
the diplomatic history of the war, but in an analysis of the 
objective position of the ruling classes in all the belligerent 
countries. In order to depict this objective position one must 
not take examples or isolated data (in view of the extreme 
complexity of the phenomena of social life it is always pos- 
sible to select any number of examples or separate data to 
prove any proposition), but all the data on the basis of eco- 
nomic life in all the belligerent countries and the whole world. 

It is precisely irrefutable summarised data of this kind 
that I quoted in describing the partition of the world in 
1876 and 1914 (in Chapter VI) and the division of the world's 
railways in 1890 and 1913 (in Chapter VII). Railways are a 
summation of the basic capitalist industries, coal, iron and 
steel; a summation and the most striking index of the 
development of world trade and bourgeois-democratic civili- 
sation. How the railways are linked up with large-scale 
industry, with monopolies, syndicates, cartels, trusts, banks 
and the financial oligarchy is shown in the preceding chap- 
ters of the book. The uneven distribution of the railways, 
their uneven development — sums up, as it were, modern 
monopolist capitalism on a world-wide scale. And this sum- 
mary proves that imperialist wars are absolutely inevitable 
under such an economic system, as long as private property 
in the means of production exists. 

The building of railways seems to be a simple, natural, 
democratic, cultural and civilising enterprise; that is what 
it is in the opinion of the bourgeois professors who are paid 
to depict capitalist slavery in bright colours, and in the 
opinion of petty-bourgeois philistines. But as a matter of 
fact the capitalist threads, which in thousands of different 
intercrossings bind these enterprises with private property 
in the means of production in general, have converted this 
railway construction into an instrument for oppressing a 
thousand million people (in the colonies and semi-colonies), 
that is, more than half the population of the globe that 
inhabits the dependent countries, as well as the wage-slaves 
of capital in the "civilised" countries. 



Private property based on the labour of the small pro- 
prietor, free competition, democracy, all the catchwords 
with which the capitalists and their press deceive the 
workers and the peasants — are things of the distant past. 
Capitalism has grown into a world system of colonial oppres- 
sion and of the financial strangulation of the overwhelming 
majority of the population of the world by a handful of 
"advanced" countries. And this "booty" is shared between 
two or three powerful world plunderers armed to the teeth 
(America, Great Britain, Japan), who are drawing the whole 
world into their war over the division of their booty. 


The Treaty of Brest-Litovsk dictated by monarchist Ger- 
many, and the subsequent much more brutal and despicable 
Treaty of Versailles dictated by the "democratic" republics 
of America and France and also by "free" Britain, have ren- 
dered a most useful service to humanity by exposing both 
imperialism's hired coolies of the pen and petty-bourgeois 
reactionaries who, although they call themselves pacifists 
and socialists, sang praises to "Wilsonism", and insisted 
that peace and reforms were possible under imperialism. 

The tens of millions of dead and maimed left by the war 
— a war to decide whether the British or German group of 
financial plunderers is to receive the most booty — and those 
two "peace treaties", are with unprecedented rapidity open- 
ing the eyes of the millions and tens of millions of people 
who are downtrodden, oppressed, deceived and duped by the 
bourgeoisie. Thus, out of the universal ruin caused by the 
war a world-wide revolutionary crisis is arising which, how- 
ever prolonged and arduous its stages may be, cannot end 
otherwise than in a proletarian revolution and in its victory. 

The Basle Manifesto of the Second International, which 
in 1912 gave an appraisal of the very war that broke out in 
1914 and not of war in general (there are different kinds of 
wars, including revolutionary wars) — this Manifesto is now a 
monument exposing to the full the shameful bankruptcy and 
treachery of the heroes of the Second International. 

That is why I reproduce this Manifesto as a supplement 
to the present edition, and again and again I urge the reader 



to note that the heroes of the Second International are as 
assiduously avoiding the passages of this Manifesto which 
speak precisely, clearly and definitely of the connection 
between that impending war and the proletarian revolu- 
tion, as a thief avoids the scene of his crime. 


Special attention has been devoted in this pamphlet to 
a criticism of Kautskyism, the international ideological 
trend represented in all countries of the world by the "most 
prominent theoreticians", the leaders of the Second Interna- 
tional (Otto Bauer and Co. in Austria, Ramsay MacDonald 
and others in Britain, Albert Thomas in France, etc., etc.) 
and a multitude of socialists, reformists, pacifists, bourgeois- 
democrats and parsons. 

This ideological trend is, on the one hand, a product of 
the disintegration and decay of the Second International, 
and, on the other hand, the inevitable fruit of the ideology 
of the petty bourgeoisie, whose entire way of life holds 
them captive to bourgeois and democratic prejudices. 

The views held by Kautsky and his like are a complete 
renunciation of those same revolutionary principles of Marx- 
ism that writer has championed for decades, especially, 
by the way, in his struggle against socialist opportunism 
(of Bernstein, Millerand, Hyndman, Gompers, etc.). It is 
not a mere accident, therefore, that Kautsky's followers all 
over the world have now united in practical politics with 
the extreme opportunists (through the Second, or Yellow 
International) and with the bourgeois governments (through 
bourgeois coalition governments in which socialists take 

The growing world proletarian revolutionary movement 
in general, and the communist movement in particular, 
cannot dispense with an analysis and exposure of the theo- 
retical errors of Kautskyism. The more so since pacifism 
and "democracy" in general, which lay no claim to Marxism 
whatever, but which, like Kautsky and Co., are obscuring 
the profundity of the contradictions of imperialism and the 
inevitable revolutionary crisis to which it gives rise, are 



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Cover of Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism. 1917 




still very widespread all over the world. To combat these 
tendencies is the bounden duty of the party of the proletar- 
iat, which must win away from the bourgeoisie the small 
proprietors who are duped by them, and the millions of 
working people who enjoy more or less petty-bourgeois 
conditions of life. 


A few words must be said about Chapter VIII, "Par- 
asitism and Decay of Capitalism". As already pointed out in 
the text, Hilferding, ex-"Marxist", and now a comrade-in- 
arms of Kautsky and one of the chief exponents of bourgeois, 
reformist policy in the Independent Social-Democratic 
Party of Germany 82 has taken a step backward on this 
question compared with the frankly pacifist and reformist 
Englishman, Hobson. The international split of the entire 
working-class movement is now quite evident (the Second 
and the Third Internationals). The fact that armed struggle 
and civil war is now raging between the two trends is also 
evident — the support given to Kolchak and Denikin in Rus- 
sia by the Mensheviks and Socialist-Revolutionaries against 
the Bolsheviks; the fight the Scheidemanns and Noskes 
have conducted in conjunction with the bourgeoisie against 
the Spartacists 83 in Germany; the same thing in Finland, 
Poland, Hungary, etc. What is the economic basis of this 
world-historical phenomenon? 

It is precisely the parasitism and decay of capitalism, 
characteristic of its highest historical stage of development, 
i.e., imperialism. As this pamphlet shows, capitalism has 
now singled out a handful (less than one-tenth of the inhab- 
itants of the globe; less than one-fifth at a most "generous" 
and liberal calculation) of exceptionally rich and powerful 
states which plunder the whole world simply by "clipping 
coupons". Capital exports yield an income of eight to ten 
thousand million francs per annum, at pre-war prices and 
according to pre-war bourgeois statistics. Now, of course, 
they yield much more. 

Obviously, out of such enormous superprofits (since they 
are obtained over and above the profits which capitalists 
squeeze out of the workers of their "own" country) it is 



possible to bribe the labour leaders and the upper stratum 
of the labour aristocracy. And that is just what the capi- 
talists of the "advanced" countries are doing: they are bribing 
them in a thousand different ways, direct and indirect, 
overt and covert. 

This stratum of workers-turned-bourgeois, or the labour 
aristocracy, who are quite philistine in their mode of life, 
in the size of their earnings and in their entire outlook, 
is the principal prop of the Second International, and in 
our days, the principal social (not military) prop of the 
bourgeoisie. For they are the real agents of the bourgeoisie 
in the working-class movement, the labour lieutenants of 
the capitalist class, real vehicles of reformism and chauvin- 
ism. In the civil war between the proletariat and the bour- 
geoisie they inevitably, and in no small numbers, take the 
side of the bourgeoisie, the "Versaillais" against the "Commu- 

Unless the economic roots of this phenomenon are under- 
stood and its political and social significance is appreciated, 
not a step can be taken toward the solution of the practical 
problems of the communist movement and of the impending 
social revolution. 

Imperialism is the eve of the social revolution of the 
proletariat. This has been confirmed since 1917 on a 
world-wide scale. 

N. Lenin 

July 6, 1920 


During the last fifteen to twenty years, especially since 
the Spanish-American War (1898) and the Anglo-Boer War 
(1899-1902), the economic and also the political literature 
of the two hemispheres has more and more often adopted 
the term "imperialism" in order to describe the present era. 
In 1902, a book by the English economist J. A. Hobson, 
Imperialism, was published in London and New York. This 
author, whose point of view is that of bourgeois social- 
reformism and pacifism which, in essence, is identical with 
the present point of view of the ex-Marxist, Karl Kautsky, 
gives a very good and comprehensive description of the prin- 
cipal specific economic and political features of imperial- 
ism. In 1910, there appeared in Vienna the work of the 
Austrian Marxist, Rudolf Hilferding, Finance Capital (Rus- 
sian edition, Moscow, 1912). In spite of the mistake the 
author makes on the theory of money, and in spite of a 
certain inclination on his part to reconcile Marxism with 
opportunism, this work gives a very valuable theoretical 
analysis of "the latest phase of capitalist development", as 
the subtitle runs. Indeed, what has been said of imperialism 
during the last few years, especially in an enormous number 
of magazine and newspaper articles, and also in the resolu- 
tions, for example, of the Chemnitz and Basle congresses 
which took place in the autumn of 1912, has scarcely gone 
beyond the ideas expounded, or more exactly, summed up 
by the two writers mentioned above.... 

Later on, I shall try to show briefly, and as simply as 
possible, the connection and relationships between the 
principal economic features of imperialism. I shall not be 
able to deal with the non-economic aspects of the question, 



however much they deserve to be dealt with. References to 
literature and other notes which, perhaps, would not inter- 
est all readers, are to be found at the end of this pamphlet. 84 


The enormous growth of industry and the remarkably rapid 
concentration of production in ever-larger enterprises are 
one of the most characteristic features of capitalism. Modern 
production censuses give most complete and most exact data 
on this process. 

In Germany, for example, out of every 1,000 industrial 
enterprises, large enterprises, i.e., those employing more 
than 50 workers, numbered three in 1882, six in 1895 and 
nine in 1907; and out of every 100 workers employed this 
group of enterprises employed 22, 30 and 37, respectively. 
Concentration of production, however, is much more intense 
than the concentration of workers, since labour in the large 
enterprises is much more productive. This is shown by the 
figures on steam-engines and electric motors. If we take 
what in Germany is called industry in the broad sense of 
the term, that is, including commerce, transport, etc 
we get the following picture. Large-scale enterprises, 30,588 
out of a total of 3,265,623, that is to say, 0.9 per cent. These 
enterprises employ 5,700,000 workers out of a total of 
14,400,000, i.e., 39.4 per cent, they use 6,600,000 steam 
horse power out of a total of 8,800,000 i.e., 75.3 per cent 
and 1,200,000 kilowatts of electricity out of a total of 
1,500,000, i.e., 77.2 per cent. 

Less than one-hundredth of the total number of enter- 
prises utilise more than three-fourths of the total amount 
of steam and electric power! Two million nine hundred and 
seventy thousand small enterprises (employing up to five 
workers), constituting 91 per cent of the total, utilise only 
7 per cent of the total amount of steam and electric power! 
Tens of thousands of huge enterprises are everything, mil- 
lions of small ones are nothing. 

In 1907, there were in Germany 586 establishments 
employing one thousand and more workers, nearly one-tenth 


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First page of manuscript, 
Imperialism, the Highest Stage 
of Capitalism. 
January-June 1916 




(1,380,000) of the total number of workers employed in 
industry, and they consumed almost one-third (32 per cent) of 
the total amount of steam and electric power.* As we shall 
see, money capital and the banks make this superiority of a 
handful of the largest enterprises still more overwhelming, 
in the most literal sense of the word, i.e., millions of small, 
medium and even some big "proprietors" are in fact in 
complete subjection to some hundreds of millionaire finan- 

In another advanced country of modern capitalism, the 
United States of America, the growth of the concentration 
of production is still greater. Here statistics single out 
industry in the narrow sense of the word and classify enter- 
prises according to the value of their annual output. In 1904 
large-scale enterprises with an output valued at one million 
dollars and over numbered 1,900 (out of 216,180, i.e., 0.9 
per cent). These employed 1,400,000 workers (out of 5,500,000, 
i.e., 25.6 per cent) and the value of their output amounted 
to $5,600,000,000 (out of $14,800,000,000, i.e., 38 per cent). 
Five years later, in 1909, the corresponding figures were: 
3,060 enterprises (out of 268,491, i.e., 1.1 per cent) employ- 
ing 2,000,000 workers (out of 6,600,000, i.e., 30.5 per 
cent) with an output valued at $9,000,000,000 (out of 
$20,700,000,000, i.e., 43.8 per cent.)** 

Almost half the total production of all the enterprises 
of the country was carried on by one-hundredth part of these 
enterprises! These 3,000 giant enterprises embrace 258 
branches of industry. From this it can be seen that, at a certain 
stage of its development concentration itself, as it were, 
leads straight to monopoly, for a score or so of giant enter- 
prises can easily arrive at an agreement, and on the other 
hand, the hindrance to competition, the tendency towards 
monopoly, arises from the huge size of the enterprises. This 
transformation of competition into monopoly is one of the 
most important — if not the most important — phenomena of 
modern capitalist economy, and we must deal with it in 
greater detail. But first we must clear up one possible mis- 

* Figures taken from Annalen des deutschen Reichs, 1911, Zahn. 
** Statistical Abstract of the United States 1912, p. 202. 



American statistics speak of 3,000 giant enterprises in 
250 branches of industry, as if there were only a dozen 
enterprises of the largest scale for each branch of industry. 

But this is not the case. Not in every branch of industry 
are there large-scale enterprises; and moreover, a very 
important feature of capitalism in its highest stage of develop- 
ment is so-called combination of production, that is to say, 
the grouping in a single enterprise of different branches of 
industry, which either represent the consecutive stages in 
the processing of raw materials (for example, the smelting 
of iron ore into pig-iron, the conversion of pig-iron into 
steel, and then, perhaps, the manufacture of steel goods) — 
or are auxiliary to one another (for example, the utilisation 
of scrap, or of by-products, the manufacture of packing 
materials, etc.). 

"Combination," writes Hilferding, "levels out the fluc- 
tuations of trade and therefore assures to the combined 
enterprises a more stable rate of profit. Secondly, combination 
has the effect of eliminating trade. Thirdly, it has the effect 
of rendering possible technical improvements, and, conse- 
quently, the acquisition of superprofits over and above 
those obtained by the 'pure' [i.e., non-combined] enterprises. 
Fourthly, it strengthens the position of the combined 
enterprises relative to the 'pure' enterprises, strengthens 
them in the competitive struggle in periods of serious 
depression, when the fall in prices of raw materials does not 
keep pace with the fall in prices of manufactured goods."* 

The German bourgeois economist, Heymann, who has 
written a book especially on "mixed", that is, combined 
enterprises in the German iron industry, says: "Pure enter- 
prises perish, they are crushed between the high price of raw 
material and the low price of the finished product." Thus 
we get the following picture: "There remain, on the one hand 
the big coal companies, producing millions of tons yearly 
strongly organised in their coal syndicate, and on the other 
the big steel plants, closely allied to the coal mines, having 
their own steel syndicate. These giant enterprises, producing 
400,000 tons of steel per annum, with a tremendous output 
of ore and coal and producing finished steel goods, employing 

Finance Capital, Russ, ed., pp. 286-87. 



10,000 workers quartered in company houses, and sometimes 
owning their own railways and ports, are the typical repre- 
sentatives of the German iron and steel industry. And con- 
centration goes on further and further. Individual enter- 
prises are becoming larger and larger. An ever-increasing 
number of enterprises in one, or in several different industries, 
join together in giant enterprises, backed up and directed 
by half a dozen big Berlin banks. In relation to the German 
mining industry, the truth of the teachings of Karl Marx 
on concentration is definitely proved; true, this applies to 
a country where industry is protected by tariffs and freight 
rates. The German mining industry is ripe for expropria- 

Such is the conclusion which a bourgeois economist who, 
by way of exception is conscientious, had to arrive at. 
It must be noted that he seems to place Germany in a special 
category because her industries are protected by high tariffs. 
But this is a circumstance which only accelerates concen- 
tration and the formation of monopolist manufacturers' 
associations, cartels, syndicates, etc. It is extremely 
important to note that in free-trade Britain, concentration 
also leads to monopoly, although somewhat later and per- 
haps in another form. Professor Hermann Levy, in his spe- 
cial work of research entitled Monopolies, Cartels and Trusts, 
based on data on British economic development, writes as 

"In Great Britain it is the size of the enterprise and its 
high technical level which harbour a monopolist tendency. 
This, for one thing, is due to the great investment of capital 
per enterprise, which gives rise to increasing demands for 
new capital for the new enterprises and thereby renders their 
launching more difficult. Moreover (and this seems to us to 
be the more important point), every new enterprise that 
wants to keep pace with the gigantic enterprises that have 
been formed by concentration would here produce such an 
enormous quantity of surplus goods that it could dispose of 
them only by being able to sell them profitably as a result 
of an enormous increase in demand; otherwise, this surplus 

* Hans Gideon Heymann, Die gemischten Werke im deutschen 
Grosseisengewerbe, Stuttgart, 1904 (S. 256, 278). 



would force prices down to a level that would be unprofi- 
table both for the new enterprise and for the monopoly 
combines." Britain differs from other countries where protec- 
tive tariffs facilitate the formation of cartels in that monop- 
olist manufacturers' associations, cartels and trusts arise 
in the majority of cases only when the number of the chief 
competing enterprises has been reduced to "a couple of 
dozen or so". "Here the influence of concentration on the 
formation of large industrial monopolies in a whole sphere 
of industry stands out with crystal clarity."* 

Half a century ago, when Marx was writing Capital, 
free competition appeared to the overwhelming majority 
of economists to be a "natural law". Official science tried 
by a conspiracy of silence, to kill the works of Marx, who by a 
theoretical and historical analysis of capitalism had proved 
that free competition gives rise to the concentration of pro- 
duction, which, in turn, at a certain stage of development 
leads to monopoly. Today, monopoly has become a fact. 
Economists are writing mountains of books in which they 
describe the diverse manifestations of monopoly, and con- 
tinue to declare in chorus that "Marxism is refuted". But 
facts are stubborn things, as the English proverb says, and 
they have to be reckoned with, whether we like it or not. The 
facts show that differences between capitalist countries, 
e.g., in the matter of protection or free trade, only give 
rise to insignificant variations in the form of monopolies 
or in the moment of their appearance; and that the rise of 
monopolies, as the result of the concentration of production, 
is a general and fundamental law of the present stage of 
development of capitalism. 

For Europe, the time when the new capitalism definitely 
superseded the old can be established with fair precision 
it was the beginning of the twentieth century. In one of the 
latest compilations on the history of the "formation of 
monopolies", we read: 

"Isolated examples of capitalist monopoly could be cited 
from the period preceding 1860; in these could be discerned 
the embryo of the forms that are so common today; but 

* Hermann Levy, Monopole, Kartelle und Trusts, Jena, 1909, 
S. 286, 290, 298. 



all this undoubtedly represents the prehistory of the car- 
tels. The real beginning of modern monopoly goes back, at 
the earliest, to the sixties. The first important period of 
development of monopoly commenced with the international 
industrial depression of the seventies and lasted until the 
beginning of the nineties." "If we examine the question on 
a European scale, we will find that the development of free 
competition reached its apex in the sixties and seventies. 
It was then that Britain completed the construction of her 
old-style capitalist organisation. In Germany, this organi- 
sation had entered into a fierce struggle with handicraft 
and domestic industry, and had begun to create for itself 
its own forms of existence." 

"The great revolution, commenced with the crash of 1873, 
or rather, the depression which followed it and which, with 
hardly discernible interruptions in the early eighties, and 
the unusually violent, but short-lived boom round about 
1889, marks twenty-two years of European economic his- 
tory." "During the short boom of 1889-90, the system of 
cartels was widely resorted to in order to take advantage of 
favourable business conditions. An ill-considered policy 
drove prices up still more rapidly and still higher than would 
have been the case if there had been no cartels, and nearly 
all these cartels perished ingloriously in the smash. Another 
five-year period of bad trade and low prices followed, but a 
new spirit reigned in industry; the depression was no longer 
regarded as something to be taken for granted; it was 
regarded as nothing more than a pause before another boom. 

"The cartel movement entered its second epoch: instead 
of being a transitory phenomenon, the cartels have become 
one of the foundations of economic life. They are winning 
one field of industry after another, primarily, the raw mate- 
rials industry. At the beginning of the nineties the cartel 
system had already acquired — in the organisation of the coke 
syndicate on the model of which the coal syndicate was later 
formed — a cartel technique which has hardly been improved 
on. For the first time the great boom at the close of the 
nineteenth century and the crisis of 1900-03 occurred 
entirely — in the mining and iron industries at least — under 
the aegis of the cartels. And while at that time it appeared 
to be something novel, now the general public takes it for 



granted that large spheres of economic life have been, as a 
general rule, removed from the realm of free competition."* 

Thus, the principal stages in the history of monopolies 
are the following: (1) 1860-70, the highest stage, the apex of 
development of free competition; monopoly is in the barely 
discernible, embryonic stage. (2) After the crisis of 1873, 
a lengthy period of development of cartels; but they are still 
the exception. They are not yet durable. They are still a 
transitory phenomenon. (3) The boom at the end of the nine- 
teenth century and the crisis of 1900-03. Cartels become one 
of the foundations of the whole of economic life. Capitalism 
has been transformed into imperialism. 

Cartels come to an agreement on the terms of sale, 
dates of payment, etc. They divide the markets among them- 
selves. They fix the quantity of goods to be produced. They 
fix prices. They divide the profits among the various enter- 
prises, etc. 

The number of cartels in Germany was estimated at about 
250 in 1896 and at 385 in 1905, with about 12,000 firms par- 
ticipating.** But it is generally recognised that these figures 
are underestimations. From the statistics of German indus- 
try for 1907 we quoted above, it is evident that even these 
12,000 very big enterprises probably consume more than 
half the steam and electric power used in the country. 
In the United States of America, the number of trusts in 1900 
was estimated at 185 and in 1907, 250. American statistics 
divide all industrial enterprises into those belonging to 
individuals, to private firms or to corporations. The latter 
in 1904 comprised 23.6 per cent, and in 1909, 25.9 per cent, 

1. e., more than one-fourth of the total industrial enter- 
prises in the country. These employed in 1904, 70.6 per 
cent, and in 1909, 75.6 per cent, i.e., more than three- 

* Th. Vogelstein, "Die finanzielle Organisation der kapitali- 
stischen Industrie und die Monopolbildungen" in Grundriss der Sozial- 
okonomik, VI. Abt., Tubingen, 1914. Cf., also by the same author: 
Organisationsformen der Eisenindustrie und Textilindustrie in England 
und Amerika, Bd. I, Lpz., 1910. 

**Dr. Riesser, Die deutschen Grossbanken und ihre Konzentration 
im Zusammenhange mit der Entwicklung der Gesamtwirtschaft in 
Deutschland, 4. Aufl., 1912, S. 149; Robert Liefmann, Kartelle und 
Trusts und die Weiterbildung der volkswirtschaftlichen Organisation, 

2, Aufl., 1910, S. 25. 



fourths of the total wage-earners. Their output at these two 
dates was valued at $10,900,000,000, and $16,300,000,000, 
i.e., 73.7 per cent and 79.0 per cent of the total, respec- 

At times cartels and trusts concentrate in their hands 
seven- or eight-tenths of the total output of a given branch 
of industry. The Rhine-Westphalian Coal Syndicate, at its 
foundation in 1893, concentrated 86.7 per cent of the total 
coal output of the area, and in 1910 it already concen- 
trated 95.4 per cent.* The monopoly so created assures enor- 
mous profits, and leads to the formation of technical produc- 
tion units of formidable magnitude. The famous Standard 
Oil Company in the United States was founded in 1900: 
"It has an authorised capital of $150,000,000. It issued 
$100,000,000 common and $106,000,000 preferred stock. 
From 1900 to 1907 the following dividends were paid on the 
latter: 48, 48, 45, 44, 36, 40, 40, 40 per cent in the respective 
years, i.e., in all, $367,000,000. From 1882 to 1907, out 
of total net profits amounting to $889,000,000, $606,000,000 
were distributed in dividends, and the rest went to reserve 
capital."** "In 1907 the various works of the United States 
Steel Corporation employed no less than 210,180 people. 
The largest enterprise in the German mining industry, 
Gelsenkirchener Bergwerksgesellschaft, in 1908 had a staff 
of 46,048 workers and office employees."*** In 1902, the 
United States Steel Corporation already produced 9,000,000 
tons of steel.**** Its output constituted in 1901, 66.3 per 
cent, and in 1908, 56.1 per cent of the total output of steel 
in the United States.***** The output of ore was 43.9 per 
cent and 46.3 per cent, respectively. 

The report of the American Government Commission on 
Trusts states: "Their superiority over competitors is due 

* Dr. Fritz Kestner, Der Organisationszwang. Eine Untersu- 
chung uber die Kdmpfe zwischen Kartellen und Aussenseitern, Berlin, 
1912, S. 11. 

** R. Liefmann, Beteiligungs- und Finanzierungsgesellschaf- 
ten. Eine Studie uber den modernen Kapitalismus und das Effekten- 
wesen, 1. Aufl., Jena. 1909. S. 212. 
*** Ibid.. S. 218. 
**** Dr. S. Tschierschky, Kartell und Trust, Gottingen, 1903, 
S. 13. 

***** Th. Vogelstein, Organisationsformen, S. 275. 



to the magnitude of their enterprises and their excellent 
technical equipment. Since its inception, the Tobacco Trust 
has devoted all its efforts to the universal substitution of 
mechanical for manual labour. With this end in view it 
has bought up all patents that have anything to do with 
the manufacture of tobacco and has spent enormous sums 
for this purpose. Many of these patents at first proved to be 
of no use, and had to be modified by the engineers employed 
by the trust. At the end of 1906, two subsidiary companies 
were formed solely to acquire patents. With the same 
object in view, the trust has built its own foundries, machine 
shops and repair shops. One of these establishments, that 
in Brooklyn, employs on the average 300 workers, here 
experiments are carried out on inventions concerning the 
manufacture of cigarettes, cheroots, snuff, tinfoil for packing, 
boxes, etc. Here, also, inventions are perfected."* "Other 
trusts also employ what are called development engineers 
whose business it is to devise new methods of production 
and to test technical improvements. The United States 
Steel Corporation grants big bonuses to its workers and 
engineers for all inventions that raise technical efficiency 
or reduce cost of production."** 

In German large-scale industry, e.g., in the chemical 
industry, which has developed so enormously during these 
last few decades, the promotion of technical improvement 
is organised in the same way. By 1908 the process of concen- 
tration of production had already given rise to two main 
"groups" which, in their way, were also in the nature of 
monopolies. At first these groups constituted "dual alliances" 
of two pairs of big factories, each having a capital of 
from twenty to twenty-one million marks — on the one hand, 
the former Meister Factory in Hochst and the Casella Fac- 
tory in Frankfurt am Main; and on the other hand, the 
aniline and soda factory at Ludwigshafen and the former 
Bayer Factory at Elberfeld. Then, in 1905, one of these 
groups, and in 1908 the other group, each concluded an 

* Report of the Commissioner of Corporations on the Tobacco 
Industry, Washington, 1909, p. 266, cited according to Dr. Paul 
Tafel, Die nordamerikanischen Trusts und ihre Wirkungen auf den 
Fortschritt der Technik, Stuttgart, 1913, S. 48. 
**Dr. P. Tafel, ibid., S. 49. 



agreement with yet another big factory. The result was the 
formation of two "triple alliances", each with a capital of 
from forty to fifty million marks. And these "alliances" 
have already begun to "approach" each other, to reach "an 
understanding" about prices, etc."* 

Competition becomes transformed into monopoly. The 
result is immense progress in the socialisation of production. 
In particular, the process of technical invention and im- 
provement becomes socialised. 

This is something quite different from the old free compe- 
tition between manufacturers, scattered and out of touch 
with one another, and producing for an unknown market. 
Concentration has reached the point at which it is possible 
to make an approximate estimate of all sources of raw 
materials (for example, the iron ore deposits) of a country 
and even, as we shall see, of several countries, or of the 
whole world. Not only are such estimates made, but these 
sources are captured by gigantic monopolist associations. 
An approximate estimate of the capacity of markets is also 
made, and the associations "divide" them up amongst them- 
selves by agreement. Skilled labour is monopolised, the 
best engineers are engaged; the means of transport are cap- 
tured — railways in America, shipping companies in Europe 
and America. Capitalism in its imperialist stage leads directly 
to the most comprehensive socialisation of production; 
it, so to speak, drags the capitalists, against their will and 
consciousness, into some sort of a new social order, a tran- 
sitional one from complete free competition to complete 

Production becomes social, but appropriation remains 
private. The social means of production remain the private 
property of a few. The general framework of formally 
recognised free competition remains, and the yoke of a few 
monopolists on the rest of the population becomes a hundred 
times heavier, more burdensome and intolerable. 

The German economist, Kestner, has written a book 
especially devoted to "the struggle between the cartels and 
outsiders", i.e., the capitalists outside the cartels. He 

* Riesser, op. cit. , third edition, p. 547 et seq. The newspapers 
(June 1916) report the formation of a new gigantic trust which com- 
bines the chemical industry of Germany. 



entitled his work Compulsory Organisation, although, in 
order to present capitalism in its true light, he should 
of course, have written about compulsory submission to 
monopolist associations. It is instructive to glance at least 
at the list of the methods the monopolist associations resort 
to in the present-day, the latest, the civilised struggle for 
"organisation": (1) stopping supplies of raw materials (..."one 
of the most important methods of compelling adherence 
to the cartel"); (2) stopping the supply of labour by means 
of "alliances" (i.e., of agreements between the capitalists 
and the trade unions by which the latter permit their mem- 
bers to work only in cartelised enterprises); (3) stopping de- 
liveries; (4) closing trade outlets; (5) agreements with the 
buyers, by which the latter undertake to trade only with the 
cartels; (6) systematic price cutting (to ruin "outside" firms, 
i.e., those which refuse to submit to the monopolists. Mil- 
lions are spent in order to sell goods for a certain time below 
their cost price; there were instances when the price of pet- 
rol was thus reduced from 40 to 22 marks, i.e., almost by 
half!); (7) stopping credits; (8) boycott. 

Here we no longer have competition between small and 
large, between technically developed and backward enter- 
prises. We see here the monopolists throttling those who do 
not submit to them, to their yoke, to their dictation. This 
is how this process is reflected in the mind of a bourgeois 

"Even in the purely economic sphere," writes Kestner, 
"a certain change is taking place from commercial activity 
in the old sense of the word towards organisational-specu- 
lative activity. The greatest success no longer goes to the 
merchant whose technical and commercial experience ena- 
bles him best of all to estimate the needs of the buyer, and 
who is able to discover and, so to speak, 'awaken' a latent 
demand; it goes to the speculative genius [?!] who knows 
how to estimate, or even only to sense in advance, the organi- 
sational development and the possibilities of certain con- 
nections between individual enterprises and the banks " 

Translated into ordinary human language this means that 
the development of capitalism has arrived at a stage when, 
although commodity production still "reigns" and continues 
to be regarded as the basis of economic life, it has in reality 



been undermined and the bulk of the profits go to the "ge- 
niuses" of financial manipulation. At the basis of these mani- 
pulations and swindles lies socialised production; but the 
immense progress of mankind, which achieved this sociali- 
sation, goes to benefit ... the speculators. We shall see later 
how "on these grounds" reactionary, petty-bourgeois critics 
of capitalist imperialism dream of going back to "free", 
"peaceful", and "honest" competition. 

"The prolonged raising of prices which results from the 
formation of cartels," says Kestner, "has hitherto been 
observed only in respect of the most important means of pro- 
duction, particularly coal, iron and potassium, but never 
in respect of manufactured goods. Similarly, the increase in 
profits resulting from this raising of prices has been limited 
only to the industries which produce means of production. 
To this observation we must add that the industries which 
process raw materials (and not semi-manufactures) not only 
secure advantages from the cartel formation in the shape 
of high profits, to the detriment of the finished goods indus- 
try, but have also secured a dominating position over the 
latter, which did not exist under free competition."* 

The words which I have italicised reveal the essence of 
the case which the bourgeois economists admit so reluctantly 
and so rarely, and which the present-day defenders of 
opportunism, led by Kautsky, so zealously try to evade and 
brush aside. Domination, and the violence that is associated 
with it, such are the relationships that are typical of 
the "latest phase of capitalist development"; this is what 
inevitably had to result, and has resulted, from the forma- 
tion of all-powerful economic monopolies. 

I shall give one more example of the methods employed 
by the cartels. Where it is possible to capture all or the 
chief sources of raw materials, the rise of cartels and for- 
mation of monopolies is particularly easy. It would be 
wrong, however, to assume that monopolies do not arise in 
other industries in which it is impossible to corner the 
sources of raw materials. The cement industry, for instance, 
can find its raw materials everywhere. Yet in Germany this 
industry too is strongly cartelised. The cement manufac- 

Kestner, op. cit. , S. 254. 



turers have formed regional syndicates: South German 
Rhine-Westphalian, etc. The prices fixed are monopoly 
prices: 230 to 280 marks a car-load, when the cost price is 
180 marks! The enterprises pay a dividend of from 12 to 
16 per cent — and it must not be forgotten that the "geniuses" 
of modern speculation know how to pocket big profits be- 
sides what they draw in dividends. In order to prevent com- 
petition in such a profitable industry, the monopolists even 
resort to various stratagems: they spread false rumours 
about the bad situation in their industry; anonymous 
warnings are published in the newspapers, like the following: 
"Capitalists, don't invest your capital in the cement indus- 
try!"; lastly, they buy up "outsiders" (those outside the syn- 
dicates) and pay them compensation of 60,000, 80,000 and 
even 150,000 marks.* Monopoly hews a path for itself 
everywhere without scruple as to the means, from paying a 
"modest" sum to buy off competitors, to the American 
device of employing dynamite against them. 

The statement that cartels can abolish crises is a fable 
spread by bourgeois economists who at all costs desire to 
place capitalism in a favourable light. On the contrary, 
the monopoly created in certain branches of industry 
increases and intensifies the anarchy inherent in capitalist 
production as a whole. The disparity between the develop- 
ment of agriculture and that of industry, which is charac- 
teristic of capitalism in general, is increased. The privileged 
position of the most highly cartelised, so-called heavy 
industry, especially coal and iron, causes "a still greater 
lack of co-ordination" in other branches of industry — as 
Jeidels, the author of one of the best works on "the relation- 
ship of the German big banks to industry", admits.** 

"The more developed an economic system is," writes 
Liefmann, an unblushing apologist of capitalism, "the more 
it resorts to risky enterprises, or enterprises in other coun- 
tries, to those which need a great deal of time to develop, or 
finally, to those which are only of local importance." *** The 

*L. Eschwege, "Zement" in Die Bank, 1909, 1, S. 115 et seq. 
** Jeidels, Das Verhdltnis der deutschen Grossbanken zur Industrie 
mit besonderer Beriicksichtigung der Eisenindustrie, Leipzig, 1905, S. 271. 

*** Liefmann, Beteiligungs- und Finanzierungsgesellschaften, 
S. 434. 



increased risk is connected in the long run with a prodigious 
increase of capital, which, as it were, overflows the brim, 
flows abroad, etc. At the same time the extremely rapid 
rate of technical progress gives rise to increasing elements 
of disparity between the various spheres of national economy, 
to anarchy and crises. Liefmann is obliged to admit that: 
"In all probability mankind will see further important tech- 
nical revolutions in the near future which will also affect 
the organisation of the economic system"... electricity and 

aviation "As a general rule, in such periods of radical 

economic change, speculation develops on a large scale."...* 

Crises of every kind — economic crises most frequently, 
but not only these — in their turn increase very considerably 
the tendency towards concentration and towards monopoly. 
In this connection, the following reflections of Jeidels on 
the significance of the crisis of 1900, which, as we have 
already seen, marked the turning-point in the history of 
modern monopoly, are exceedingly instructive: 

"Side by side with the gigantic plants in the basic 
industries, the crisis of 1900 still found many plants organised 
on lines that today would be considered obsolete, the 'pure' 
(non-combined) plants, which were brought into being at 
the height of the industrial boom. The fall in prices and the 
falling off in demand put these 'pure' enterprises in a pre- 
carious position, which did not affect the gigantic combined 
enterprises at all or only affected them for a very short 
time. As a consequence of this the crisis of 1900 resulted in 
a far greater concentration of industry than the crisis of 
1873: the latter crisis also produced a sort of selection of the 
best-equipped enterprises, but owing to the level of techni- 
cal development at that time, this selection could not place 
the firms which successfully emerged from the crisis in a 
position of monopoly. Such a durable monopoly exists to a 
high degree in the gigantic enterprises in the modern iron 
and steel and electrical industries owing to their very com- 
plicated technique, far-reaching organisation and magnitude 
of capital, and, to a lesser degree, in the engineering indus- 
try, certain branches of the metallurgical industry, trans- 
port, etc."** 

* Ibid., S. 465-66. 
** Jeidels, op. cit., S. 108. 



Monopoly! This is the last word in the "latest phase of 
capitalist development". But we shall only have a very 
insufficient, incomplete, and poor notion of the real power 
and the significance of modern monopolies if we do not take 
into consideration the part played by the banks. 


The principal and primary function of banks is to serve 
as middlemen in the making of payments. In so doing they 
transform inactive money capital into active, that is, into 
capital yielding a profit; they collect all kinds of money 
revenues and place them at the disposal of the capitalist 

As banking develops and becomes concentrated in a small 
number of establishments, the banks grow from modest 
middlemen into powerful monopolies having at their com- 
mand almost the whole of the money capital of all the capi- 
talists and small businessmen and also the larger part of 
the means of production and sources of raw materials in 
any one country and in a number of countries. This trans- 
formation of numerous modest middlemen into a handful 
of monopolists is one of the fundamental processes in the 
growth of capitalism into capitalist imperialism; for this 
reason we must first of all examine the concentration of 

In 1907-08, the combined deposits of the German joint- 
stock banks, each having a capital of more than a million 
marks, amounted to 7,000 million marks; in 1912-13, these 
deposits already amounted to 9,800 million marks, an 
increase of 40 per cent in five years; and of the 2,800 million 
increase, 2,750 million was divided among 57 banks, each 
having a capital of more than 10 million marks. The distri- 
bution of the deposits between big and small banks was as 

* Alfred Lansburgh, "Fiinf Jahre deutsches Bankwesen" in Die 
Bank, 1913, No. 8, S. 728. 



Percentage of Total Deposits 

In 9 


In the other 

48 banks 
with a cap- 
ital of more 
than 10 mil- 
lion marks 

In 115 banks 
with a cap- 
ital of 1-10 



In small 
banks (with 
a capital of 
less than 







The small banks are being squeezed out by the big banks, 
of which only nine concentrate in their hands almost half 
the total deposits. But we have left out of account many 
important details, for instance, the transformation of 
numerous small banks into actual branches of the big banks, 
etc. Of this I shall speak later on. 

At the end of 1913, Schulze-Gaevernitz estimated the 
deposits in the nine big Berlin banks at 5,100 million marks, 
out of a total of about 10,000 million marks. Taking into 
account not only the deposits, but the total bank capital, 
this author wrote: "At the end of 1909, the nine big Berlin 
banks, together with their affiliated banks, controlled 11,300 
million marks, that is, about 83 per cent of the total German 
bank capital. The Deutsche Bank, which together with its 
affiliated banks controls nearly 3,000 million marks, repre- 
sents, parallel to the Prussian State Railway Administra- 
tion, the biggest and also the most decentralised accumula- 
tion of capital in the Old World."* 

I have emphasised the reference to the "affiliated" banks 
because it is one of the most important distinguishing fea- 
tures of modern capitalist concentration. The big enterprises, 
and the banks in particular, not only completely absorb 
the small ones, but also "annex" them, subordinate them, 
bring them into their "own" group or "concern" (to use the 
technical term) by acquiring "holdings" in their capital, by 
purchasing or exchanging shares, by a system of credits 
etc., etc. Professor Liefmann has written a voluminous 
"work" of about 500 pages describing modern "holding 

* Schulze-Gaevernitz, "Die deutsche Kreditbank" in Grundriss 
der Sozialdkonomik, Tubingen, 1915, S. 12, 137. 



and finance companies"* unfortunately adding very dubious 
"theoretical" reflections to what is frequently undigested 
raw material. To what results this "holding" system leads 
in respect of concentration is best illustrated in the book 
written on the big German banks by Riesser, himself a bank- 
er. But before examining his data, let us quote a concrete 
example of the "holding" system. 

The Deutsche Bank "group" is one of the biggest, if not 
the biggest, of the big banking groups. In order to trace 
the main threads which connect all the banks in this group, 
a distinction must be made between holdings of the first 
and second and third degree, or what amounts to the same 
thing, between dependence (of the lesser banks on the 
Deutsche Bank) in the first, second and third degree. We 
then obtain the following picture**: 






Direct or 1st 
degree dependence 

Permanently. . in 17 other 

For an indefi- 
nite period . 

Occasionally . 

in 5 other banks 
in 8 other banks 

2nd degree 

9 of the 17 
have holdings 
in 34 other 

3rd degree 

4 of the 9 
have holdings 
in 7 other 

5 of the 8 2 of the 5 

have holdings have holdings 

in 14 other in 2 other 

banks banks 

V Totals ... in 30 other 14 of the 30 6 of the 14 

banks have holdings have holdings 

in 48 other in 9 other 

banks banks 

Included in the eight banks "occasionally" dependent on 
the Deutsche Bank in the "first degree", are three foreign 
banks: one Austrian (the Wiener Bankverein) and two Rus- 
sian (the Siberian Commercial Bank and the Russian Bank 
for Foreign Trade). Altogether, the Deutsche Bank group 

* R. Liefmann, Beteiligungs- und Finanzierungsgesellschaften, 
Eine Studie iiber den modernen Kapitalismus und das Effektenwesen, 
1 Aufl., Jena, 1909, S. 212. 

** Alfred Lansburgh, "Das Beteiligungssystem im deutschen 
Bankwesen" in Die Bank, 1910, 1, S. 500. 



comprises, directly and indirectly, partially and totally, 
87 banks; and the total capital — its own and that of others 
which it controls — is estimated at between two and three 
thousand million marks. 

It is obvious that a bank which stands at the head of 
such a group, and which enters into agreement with half a 
dozen other banks only slightly smaller than itself for the 
purpose of conducting exceptionally big and profitable finan- 
cial operations like floating state loans, has already outgrown 
the part of "middleman" and has become an association of 
a handful of monopolists. 

The rapidity with which the concentration of banking 
proceeded in Germany at the turn of the twentieth century 
is shown by the following data which we quote in an abbre- 
viated form from Riesser: 

Six Big Berlin Banks 

holdings in Total estab- 
German joint- lishments 
stock banks 

1 42 
8 80 
63 450 

We see the rapid expansion of a close network of channels 
which cover the whole country, centralising all capital 
and all revenues, transforming thousands and thousands of 
scattered economic enterprises into a single national capi- 
talist, and then into a world capitalist economy. The 
"decentralisation" that Schulze-Gaevernitz, as an exponent 
of present-day bourgeois political economy, speaks of in 
the passage previously quoted, really means the subordina- 
tion to a single centre of an increasing number of formerly 
relatively "independent", or rather, strictly local economic 
units. In reality it is centralisation, the enhancement of the 
role, importance and power of monopolist giants. 

In the older capitalist countries this "banking network" 
is still more close. In Great Britain and Ireland, in 1910, 
there were in all 7,151 branches of banks. Four big banks 
had more than 400 branches each (from 447 to 689); four 
had more than 200 branches each, and eleven more than 
100 each. 


Deposit banks 



and exchange 












214 V. I. LENIN 

In France, three very big banks, Credit Lyonnais, the 
Comptoir National and the Societe Generale, extended their 
operations and their network of branches in the following 

Number of branches and offices Capital 

(000,000 francs) 

In the 




Deposits used 




as capital 



















In order to show the "connections" of a big modern bank, 
Riesser gives the following figures of the number of let- 
ters dispatched and received by the Disconto-Gesellschaft, 
one of the biggest banks in Germany and in the world (its 
capital in 1914 amounted to 300 million marks): 

Letters Letters 
received dispatched 

1852 6,135 6,292 

1870 85,800 87,513 

1900 533,102 626,043 

The number of accounts of the big Paris bank, the Credit 
Lyonnais, increased from 28,535 in 1875 to 633,539 in 

These simple figures show perhaps better than lengthy 
disquisitions how the concentration of capital and the 
growth of bank turnover are radically changing the sig- 
nificance of the banks. Scattered capitalists are transformed 
into a single collective capitalist. When carrying the cur- 
rent accounts of a few capitalists, a bank, as it were, 
transacts a purely technical and exclusively auxiliary opera- 
tion. When, however, this operation grows to enormous 
dimensions we find that a handful of monopolists subordi- 
nate to their will all the operations, both commercial and 
industrial, of the whole of capitalist society; for they are 
enabled — by means of their banking connections, their 
current accounts and other financial operations — first, to 

* Eugen Kaufmann, Das franzosische Bankwesen, Tubingen, 
1911, S. 356 und 362. 


Jean Lescure, Uepargne en France, Paris, 1914, p. 52. 



ascertain exactly the financial position of the various capi- 
talists, then to control them, to influence them by restrict- 
ing or enlarging, facilitating or hindering credits, and 
finally to entirely determine their fate, determine their 
income, deprive them of capital, or permit them to 
increase their capital rapidly and to enormous dimen- 
sions, etc. 

We have just mentioned the 300 million marks capital of 
the Disconto-Gesellschaft of Berlin. This increase of the 
capital of the bank was one of the incidents in the struggle 
for hegemony between two of the biggest Berlin banks — the 
Deutsche Bank and the Disconto. In 1870, the first was still 
a novice and had a capital of only 15 million marks, while 
the second had a capital of 30 million marks. In 1908, the 
first had a capital of 200 million, while the second had 
170 million. In 1914, the first increased its capital to 250 
million and the second, by merging with another first-class 
big bank, the Schaaffhausenscher Bankverein, increased 
its capital to 300 million. And, of course, this struggle for 
hegemony went hand in hand with the more and more fre- 
quent conclusion of "agreements" of an increasingly durable 
character between the two banks. The following are the 
conclusions that this development forces upon banking 
specialists who regard economic questions from a stand- 
point which does not in the least exceed the bounds 
of the most moderate and cautious bourgeois reform- 

Commenting on the increase of the capital of the Dis- 
conto-Gesellschaft to 300 million marks, the German review, 
Die Bank, wrote: "Other banks will follow this same path 
and in time the three hundred men, who today govern Ger- 
many economically, will gradually be reduced to fifty, twenty- 
five or still fewer. It cannot be expected that this latest 
move towards concentration will be confined to banking. 
The close relations that exist between individual banks 
naturally lead to the bringing together of the industrial syndi- 
cates which these banks favour.... One fine morning we shall 
wake up in surprise to see nothing but trusts before our eyes, 
and to find ourselves faced with the necessity of substituting 
state monopolies for private monopolies. However, we have 
nothing to reproach ourselves with, except that we have 



allowed things to follow their own course, slightly accelerated 
by the manipulation of stocks."* 

This is an example of the impotence of bourgeois jour- 
nalism which differs from bourgeois science only in that the 
latter is less sincere and strives to obscure the essence of 
the matter, to hide the forest behind the trees. To be "sur- 
prised" at the results of concentration, to "reproach" the 
government of capitalist Germany, or capitalist "society" 
("ourselves"), to fear that the introduction of stocks and 
shares might "accelerate" concentration in the same way as 
the German "cartel" specialist Tschierschky fears the Amer- 
ican trusts and "prefers" the German cartels on the grounds 
that they "may not, like the trusts, excessively accelerate 
technical and economic progress"** — is not all this a sign 
of impotence? 

But facts remain facts. There are no trusts in Germany; 
there are "only" cartels — but Germany is governed by not 
more than three hundred magnates of capital, and the num- 
ber of these is constantly diminishing. At all events, banks 
greatly intensify and accelerate the process of concentra- 
tion of capital and the formation of monopolies in all capi- 
talist countries, notwithstanding all the differences in their 
banking laws. 

The banking system "possesses, indeed, the form of uni- 
versal book-keeping and distribution of means of produc- 
tion on a social scale, but solely the form", wrote Marx in 
Capital half a century ago (Russ. trans., Vol. Ill, part II, 
p. 144 85 ). The figures we have quoted on the growth of bank 
capital, on the increase in the number of the branches and 
offices of the biggest banks, the increase in the number of 
their accounts, etc., present a concrete picture of this "uni- 
versal book-keeping" of the whole capitalist class; and not 
only of the capitalists, for the banks collect, even though 
temporarily, all kinds of money revenues — of small business- 
men, office clerks, and of a tiny upper stratum of the working 
class. "Universal distribution of means of production" — 
that, from the formal aspect, is what grows out of the modern 
banks, which, numbering some three to six of the biggest 

* A. Lansburgh, "Die Bank mit den 300 Millionen" in Die Bank, 
1914, 1, S. 426. 

** S. Tschierschky, op. cit., S. 128. 



in France, and six to eight in Germany, control millions 
and millions. In substance, however, the distribution of 
means of production is not at all "universal", but private, 
i.e., it conforms to the interests of big capital, and prima- 
rily, of huge, monopoly capital, which operates under 
conditions in which the masses live in want, in which the 
whole development of agriculture hopelessly lags behind 
the development of industry, while within industry itself 
the "heavy industries" exact tribute from all other branches 
of industry. 

In the matter of socialising capitalist economy the 
savings-banks and post-offices are beginning to compete with 
the banks; they are more "decentralised", i.e., their influence 
extends to a greater number of localities, to more remote 
places, to wider sections of the population. Here is the data 
collected by an American commission on the comparative 
growth of deposits in banks and savings-banks*: 

Deposits (000,000,000 marks) 




' '. v ' — 

Banks Savings- Banks Savings- Banks 

banks banks 

Credit Savings- 
societies banks 










As they pay interest at the rate of 4 per cent and 4 l / 4 per 
cent on deposits, the savings-banks must seek "profitable" 
investments for their capital, they must deal in bills, mort- 
gages, etc. The boundaries between the banks and the 
savings-banks "become more and more obliterated". The Cham- 
bers of Commerce of Bochum and Erfurt, for example, 
demand that savings-banks be "prohibited" from engaging in 
"purely" banking business, such as discounting bills; they 
demand the limitation of the "banking" operations of the 
post-office.** The banking magnates seem to be afraid that 
state monopoly will steal upon them from an unexpected 
quarter. It goes without saying, however, that this fear is 

* Statistics of the National Monetary Commission, quoted in 
Die Bank, 1910, 1, S. 1200. 

**Die Bank, 1913, S. 811, 1022; 1914, S. 713. 



no more than an expression of the rivalry, so to speak, 
between two department managers in the same office; for, 
on the one hand, the millions entrusted to the savings-banks 
are in the final analysis actually controlled by these very 
same bank capital magnates, while, on the other hand, state 
monopoly in capitalist society is merely a means of increas- 
ing and guaranteeing the income of millionaires in some 
branch of industry who are on the verge of bankruptcy. 

The change from the old type of capitalism, in which 
free competition predominated, to the new capitalism, in 
which monopoly reigns, is expressed, among other things, 
by a decline in the importance of the Stock Exchange. The 
review, Die Bank, writes: "The Stock Exchange has long 
ceased to be the indispensable medium of circulation that 
it formerly was when the banks were not yet able to place 
the bulk of new issues with their clients."* 

'"Every bank is a Stock Exchange', and the bigger the 
bank, and the more successful the concentration of banking, 
the truer does this modern aphorism ring."** "While 
formerly, in the seventies, the Stock Exchange, flushed 
with the exuberance of youth" (a "subtle" allusion to the 
Stock Exchange crash of 1873, the company promotion scan- 
dals, 86 etc.), "opened the era of the industrialisation of 
Germany, nowadays the banks and industry are able to 'man- 
age it alone'. The domination of our big banks over the Stock 
Exchange ... is nothing else than the expression of the com- 
pletely organised German industrial state. If the domain 
of the automatically functioning economic laws is thus 
restricted, and if the domain of conscious regulation by the 
banks is considerably enlarged, the national economic 
responsibility of a few guiding heads is immensely increased," 
so writes the German Professor Schulze-Gaevernitz,*** 
an apologist of German imperialism, who is regarded as 
an authority by the imperialists of all countries, and who 
tries to gloss over the "mere detail" that the "conscious regu- 
lation" of economic life by the banks consists in the fleecing 
of the public by a handful of "completely organised" monop- 

* Die Bank, 1914, 1, S. 316. 
**Dr. Oscar Stillich, Geld- und Bankwesen, Berlin, 1907, S. 169. 
*** Schulze-Gaevernitz, "Die deutsche Kreditbank" in Grundriss 
der Sozialokonomik, Tubingen, 1915, S. 101. 



olists. The task of a bourgeois professor is not to lay bare 
the entire mechanism, or to expose all the machinations of 
the bank monopolists, but rather to present them in a 
favourable light. 

In the same way, Riesser, a still more authoritative econ- 
omist and himself a banker, makes shift with meaningless 
phrases in order to explain away undeniable facts: "...the 
Stock Exchange is steadily losing the feature which is 
absolutely essential for national economy as a whole and for 
the circulation of securities in particular — that of being 
not only a most exact measuring-rod, but also an almost 
automatic regulator of the economic movements which con- 
verge on it."* 

In other words, the old capitalism, the capitalism of 
free competition with its indispensable regulator, the Stock 
Exchange, is passing away. A new capitalism has come 
to take its place, bearing obvious features of something 
transient, a mixture of free competition and monopoly. The 
question naturally arises: into what is this new capitalism 
"developing"? But the bourgeois scholars are afraid to raise 
this question. 

"Thirty years ago, businessmen, freely competing against 
one another, performed nine-tenths of the work connected 
with their business other than manual labour. At the pres- 
ent time, nine-tenths of this 'brain work' is performed by 
employees. Banking is in the forefront of this evolution."** 
This admission by Schulze-Gaevernitz brings us once again 
to the question: into what is this new capitalism, capital- 
ism in its imperialist stage, developing? 

Among the few banks which remain at the head of all 
capitalist economy as a result of the process of concentration, 
there is naturally to be observed an increasingly marked 
tendency towards monopolist agreements, towards a bank 
trust. In America, not nine, but two very big banks, those 
of the multimillionaires Rockefeller and Morgan, control 
a capital of eleven thousand million marks.*** In Germany 
the absorption of the Schaaffhausenscher Bankverein by 

* Riesser, op. cit., 4th ed., S. 629. 
** Schulze-Gaevernitz, "Die deutsche Kreditbank" in Grundriss 
der Sozialdkonomik, Tubingen, 1915, S. 151. 
*** Die Bank, 1912, 1, S. 435. 



the Disconto-Gesellschaft to which I referred above, was 
commented on in the following terms by the Frankfurter 
Zeitung, 81 an organ of Stock Exchange interests: 

"The concentration movement of the banks is narrowing 
the circle of establishments from which it is possible to 
obtain credits, and is consequently increasing the depend- 
ence of big industry upon a small number of banking groups. 
In view of the close connection between industry and the 
financial world, the freedom of movement of industrial com- 
panies which need banking capital is restricted. For this 
reason, big industry is watching the growing trustification 
of the banks with mixed feelings. Indeed, we have repeatedly 
seen the beginnings of certain agreements between the 
individual big banking concerns, which aim at restricting 

Again and again, the final word in the development of 
banking is monopoly. 

As regards the close connection between the banks and 
industry, it is precisely in this sphere that the new role 
of the banks is, perhaps, most strikingly felt. When a bank 
discounts a bill for a firm, opens a current account for it, 
etc., these operations, taken separately, do not in the least 
diminish its independence, and the bank plays no other part 
than that of a modest middleman. But when such operations 
are multiplied and become an established practice, when 
the bank "collects" in its own hands enormous amounts 
of capital, when the running of a current account for a given 
firm enables the bank — and this is what happens — to obtain 
fuller and more detailed information about the economic 
position of its client, the result is that the industrial capi- 
talist becomes more completely dependent on the bank. 

At the same time a personal link-up, so to speak, is estab- 
lished between the banks and the biggest industrial and 
commercial enterprises, the merging of one with another 
through the acquisition of shares, through the appointment 
of bank directors to the Supervisory Boards (or Boards of 
Directors) of industrial and commercial enterprises, and 
vice versa. The German economist, Jeidels, has compiled 
most detailed data on this form of concentration of capital 

Quoted by Schulze-Gaevernitz, op. cit., S. 155. 



and of enterprises. Six of the biggest Berlin banks were 
represented by their directors in 344 industrial companies; 
and by their board members in 407 others, making a total of 
751 companies. In 289 of these companies they either had 
two of their representatives on each of the respective Super- 
visory Boards, or held the posts of chairmen. We find these 
industrial and commercial companies in the most diverse 
branches of industry: insurance, transport, restaurants, 
theatres, art industry, etc. On the other hand, on the 
Supervisory Boards of these six banks (in 1910) were fifty-one 
of the biggest industrialists, including the director of Krupp, 
of the powerful "Hapag" (Hamburg-Amerika Line), etc., 
etc. From 1895 to 1910 each of these six banks participated 
in the share and bond issues of many hundreds of industrial 
companies (the number ranging from 281 to 419).* 

The "personal link-up" between the banks and industry is 
supplemented by the "personal link-up" between both of them 
and the government. "Seats on Supervisory Boards," writes 
Jeidels, "are freely offered to persons of title, also to ex-civil 
servants, who are able to do a great deal to facilitate [!!] 
relations with the authorities." ... "Usually, on the Super- 
visory Board of a big bank, there is a member of parliament 
or a Berlin city councillor." 

The building and development, so to speak, of the big 
capitalist monopolies is therefore going on full steam ahead 
in all "natural" and "supernatural" ways. A sort of division 
of labour is being systematically developed amongst the 
several hundred kings of finance who reign over modern 
capitalist society: 

"Simultaneously with this widening of the sphere of activ- 
ity of certain big industrialists [joining the boards of 
banks, etc.] and with the assignment of provincial bank 
managers to definite industrial regions, there is a growth of 
specialisation among the directors of the big banks. Gener- 
ally speaking, this specialisation is only conceivable when 
banking is conducted on a large scale, and particularly when 
it has widespread connections with industry. This division 
of labour proceeds along two lines: on the one hand, rela- 
tions with industry as a whole are entrusted to one director, 

Jeidels, op. cit.; Riesser, op. cit. 



as his special function; on the other, each director 
assumes the supervision of several separate enterprises, or 
of a group of enterprises in the same branch of industry or 

having similar interests [Capitalism has already reached 

the stage of organised supervision of individual enterprises.] 
One specialises in German industry, sometimes even in 
West German industry alone [the West is the most industri- 
alised part of Germany], others specialise in relations with 
foreign states and foreign industry, in information on the 
characters of industrialists and others, in Stock Exchange 
questions, etc. Besides, each bank director is often assigned 
a special locality or a special branch of industry- one works 
chiefly on Supervisory Boards of electric companies, another, 
on chemical, brewing, or beet sugar plants, a third, in a few 
isolated industrial enterprises, but at the same time works 

on the Supervisory Boards of insurance companies In 

short, there can be no doubt that the growth in the dimen- 
sions and diversity of the big banks operations is accompanied 
by an increase in the division of labour among their direc- 
tors with the object (and result) of, so to speak, lifting 
them somewhat out of pure banking and making them better 
experts, better judges of the general problems of industry 
and the special problems of each branch of industry, thus 
making them more capable of acting within the respective 
bank's industrial sphere of influence. This system is supple- 
mented by the banks' endeavours to elect to their Supervi- 
sory Boards men who are experts in industrial affairs, such 
as industrialists, former officials, especially those formerly 
in the railway service or in mining," etc.* 

We find the same system only in a slightly different form 
in French banking. For instance, one of the three biggest 
French banks, the Credit Lyonnais, has organised a finan- 
cial research service (service des etudes financieres) , which 
permanently employs over fifty engineers, statisticians, 
economists, lawyers, etc. This costs from six to seven hun- 
dred thousand francs annually. The service is in turn divided 
into eight departments: one specialises in collecting infor- 
mation on industrial establishments, another studies 

Jeidels, op. cit., S. 157. 



general statistics, a third, railway and steamship companies, 
a fourth, securities, a fifth, financial reports, etc.* 

The result is, on the one hand, the ever-growing merger, 
or, as N. I. Bukharin aptly calls it, coalescence, of bank 
and industrial capital and, on the other hand, the growth of 
the banks into institutions of a truly "universal character". 
On this question I find it necessary to quote the 
exact terms used by Jeidels, who has best studied the sub- 

"An examination of the sum total of industrial relation- 
ships reveals the universal character of the financial estab- 
lishments working on behalf of industry. Unlike other 
kinds of banks, and contrary to the demand sometimes 
expressed in the literature that banks should specialise in 
one kind of business or in one branch of industry in order 
to prevent the ground from slipping from under their feet — 
the big banks are striving to make their connections with 
industrial enterprises as varied as possible in respect of 
the locality or branches of industry and are striving to elim- 
inate the unevenness in the distribution of capital among 
localities and branches of industry resulting from the his- 
torical development of individual enterprises." "One ten- 
dency is to make the connections with industry general; 
another tendency is to make them durable and close. In the 
six big banks both these tendencies are realised, not in full, 
but to a considerable extent and to an equal degree." 

Quite often industrial and commercial circles complain 
of the "terrorism" of the banks. And it is not surprising that 
such complaints are heard, for the big banks "command", 
as will be seen from the following example. On November 19, 
1901, one of the big, so-called Berlin "D" banks (the names 
of the four biggest banks begin with letter D) wrote to the 
Board of Directors of the German Central Northwest 
Cement Syndicate in the following terms: "As we learn from 
the notice you published in a certain newspaper of the 18th 
inst., we must reckon with the possibility that the next 
general meeting of your syndicate, to be held on the 30th 
of this month, may decide on measures which are likely 

* An article by Eug. Kaufmann on French banks in Die Bank, 
1909, 2, S. 851 et seq. 



to effect changes in your enterprise which are unacceptable 
to us. We deeply regret that, for these reasons, we are obliged 
henceforth to withdraw the credit which had hitherto 

been allowed you But if the said next general meeting 

does not decide upon measures which are unacceptable to us, 
and if we receive suitable guarantees on this matter for the 
future, we shall be quite willing to open negotiations with 
you on the grant of a new credit."* 

As a matter of fact, this is small capital's old complaint 
about being oppressed by big capital, but in this case it 
was a whole syndicate that fell into the category of "small" 
capital! The old struggle between small and big capital is 
being resumed at a new and immeasurably higher stage of 
development. It stands to reason that the big banks' enter- 
prises, worth many millions, can accelerate technical 
progress with means that cannot possibly be compared with 
those of the past. The banks, for example, set up special 
technical research societies, and, of course, only "friendly" 
industrial enterprises benefit from their work. To this 
category belong the Electric Railway Research Association, 
the Central Bureau of Scientific and Technical Research, 

The directors of the big banks themselves cannot fail 
to see that new conditions of national economy are being 
created; but they are powerless in the face of these pheno- 

"Anyone who has watched, in recent years," writes Jei- 
dels, "the changes of incumbents of directorships and seats 
on the Supervisory Boards of the big banks, cannot fail to 
have noticed that power is gradually passing into the hands 
of men who consider the active intervention of the big 
banks in the general development of industry to be neces- 
sary and of increasing importance. Between these new men 
and the old bank directors, disagreements on this subject 
of a business and often of a personal nature are growing. 
The issue is whether or not the banks, as credit institutions, 
will suffer from this intervention in industry, whether they 
are sacrificing tried principles and an assured profit to 
engage in a field of activity which has nothing in common 

Dr. Oscar Stillich, Geld- und Bankwesen, Berlin, 1907, S. 148. 



with their role as middlemen in providing credit, and which 
is leading the banks into a field where they are more than 
ever before exposed to the blind forces of trade fluctuations. 
This is the opinion of many of the older bank directors, 
while most of the young men consider active intervention 
in industry to be a necessity as great as that which gave 
rise, simultaneously with big modern industry, to the big 
banks and modern industrial banking. The two parties are 
agreed only on one point: that there are neither firm prin- 
ciples nor a concrete aim in the new activities of the big 

The old capitalism has had its day. The new capitalism 
represents a transition towards something. It is hopeless 
of course, to seek for "firm principles and a concrete aim" 
for the purpose of "reconciling" monopoly with free competi- 
tion. The admission of the practical men has quite a differ- 
ent ring from the official praises of the charms of "organised" 
capitalism sung by its apologists, Schulze-Gaevernitz, 
Liefmann and similar "theoreticians". 

At precisely what period were the "new activities" of the 
big banks finally established? Jeidels gives us a fairly exact 
answer to this important question: 

"The connections between the banks and industrial enter- 
prises, with their new content, their new forms and their 
new organs, namely, the big banks which are organised 
on both a centralised and a decentralised basis, were scarcely 
a characteristic economic phenomenon before the nineties; 
in one sense, indeed, this initial date may be advanced to 
the year 1897, when the important 'mergers' took place and 
when, for the first time, the new form of decentralised or- 
ganisation was introduced to suit the industrial policy of 
the banks. This starting-point could perhaps be placed at 
an even later date, for it was the crisis of 1900 that enor- 
mously accelerated and intensified the process of concentra- 
tion of industry and of banking, consolidated that process, 
for the first time transformed the connection with industry 
into the actual monopoly of the big banks, and made this 
connection much closer and more active."** 

* Jeidels, op. cit., S. 183-84. 
** Ibid., S. 181. 



Thus, the twentieth century marks the turning-point 
from the old capitalism to the new, from the domination 
of capital in general to the domination of finance capital. 


"A steadily increasing proportion of capital in industry," 
writes Hilferding, "ceases to belong to the industrialists 
who employ it. They obtain the use of it only through the 
medium of the banks which, in relation to them, represent 
the owners of the capital. On the other hand, the bank is 
forced to sink an increasing share of its funds in industry. 
Thus, to an ever greater degree the banker is being trans- 
formed into an industrial capitalist. This bank capital, 
i.e., capital in money form, which is thus actually trans- 
formed into industrial capital, I call 'finance capital'." 
"Finance capital is capital controlled by banks and employed 
by industrialists."* 

This definition is incomplete insofar as it is silent on 
one extremely important fact — on the increase of concen- 
tration of production and of capital to such an extent that 
concentration is leading, and has led, to monopoly. But 
throughout the whole of his work, and particularly in the 
two chapters preceding the one from which this defini- 
tion is taken, Hilferding stresses the part played by capi- 
talist monopolies. 

The concentration of production; the monopolies arising 
therefrom; the merging or coalescence of the banks with 
industry — such is the history of the rise of finance capital 
and such is the content of that concept. 

We now have to describe how, under the general condi- 
tions of commodity production and private property, the 
"business operations" of capitalist monopolies inevitably 
lead to the domination of a financial oligarchy. It should 
be noted that German — and not only German — bourgeois 
scholars, like Riesser, Schulze-Gaevernitz, Liefmann and 
others, are all apologists of imperialism and of finance capital. 

* R. Hilferding, Finance Capital, Moscow, 1912 (in Russian), 
pp. 338-39. 



Instead of revealing the "mechanics" of the formation of an 
oligarchy, its methods, the size of its revenues "impeccable and 
peccable", its connections with parliaments, etc., etc., they 
obscure or gloss over them. They evade these "vexed ques- 
tions" by pompous and vague phrases, appeals to the "sense 
of responsibility" of bank directors, by praising "the sense 
of duty" of Prussian officials, giving serious study to the 
petty details of absolutely ridiculous parliamentary bills 
for the "supervision" and "regulation" of monopolies, playing 
spillikins with theories, like, for example, the following 
"scholarly" definition, arrived at by Professor Liefmann: 
"Commerce is an occupation having for its object 
the collection, storage and supply of goods."* 
(The Professor's bold-face italics.) ...From this it would 
follow that commerce existed in the time of primitive 
man, who knew nothing about exchange, and that it will 
exist under socialism! 

But the monstrous facts concerning the monstrous rule 
of the financial oligarchy are so glaring that in all capi- 
talist countries, in America, France and Germany, a whole 
literature has sprung up, written from the bourgeois point 
of view, but which, nevertheless, gives a fairly truthful 
picture and criticism — petty-bourgeois, naturally — of 
this oligarchy. 

Paramount importance attaches to the "holding sys- 
tem", already briefly referred to above. The German 
economist, Heymann, probably the first to call attention 
to this matter, describes the essence of it in this way: 

"The head of the concern controls the principal company 
[literally: the "mother company"]; the latter reigns over 
the subsidiary companies ["daughter companies"] which 
in their turn control still other subsidiaries ["grandchild 
companies"], etc. In this way, it is possible with a compar- 
atively small capital to dominate immense spheres of pro- 
duction. Indeed, if holding 50 per cent of the capital is 
always sufficient to control a company, the head of the con- 
cern needs only one million to control eight million in the 
second subsidiaries. And if this 'interlocking' is extended, 

R. Liefmann, op. cit. , S. 476. 



it is possible with one million to control sixteen million, 
thirty-two million, etc."* 

As a matter of fact, experience shows that it is sufficient 
to own 40 per cent of the shares of a company in order to 
direct its affairs,** since in practice a certain number of 
small, scattered shareholders find it impossible to attend 
general meetings, etc. The "democratisation" of the owner- 
ship of shares, from which the bourgeois sophists and 
opportunist so-called "Social-Democrats" expect (or say that 
they expect) the "democratisation of capital", the strength- 
ening of the role and significance of small-scale produc- 
tion, etc., is, in fact, one of the ways of increasing the 
power of the financial oligarchy. Incidentally, this is why, 
in the more advanced, or in the older and more "experi- 
enced" capitalist countries, the law allows the issue of 
shares of smaller denomination. In Germany, the law does 
not permit the issue of shares of less than one thousand 
marks denomination, and the magnates of German finance 
look with an envious eye at Britain, where the issue of one- 
pound shares (= 20 marks, about 10 rubles) is permitted. 
Siemens, one of the biggest industrialists and "financial 
kings" in Germany, told the Reichstag on June 7, 1900, that 
"the one-pound share is the basis of British imperialism".*** 
This merchant has a much deeper and more "Marxist" 
understanding of imperialism than a certain disreputable 
writer who is held to be one of the founders of Russian 
Marxism 88 and believes that imperialism is a bad habit of 
a certain nation.... 

But the "holding system" not only serves enormously to 
increase the power of the monopolists; it also enables them 
to resort with impunity to all sorts of shady and dirty 
tricks to cheat the public, because formally the directors 
of the "mother company" are not legally responsible for the 
"daughter company", which is supposed to be "independent", 
and through the medium of which they can "pull off" any- 

* Hans Gideon Heymann, Die gemischten Werke im deutschen 
Grosseisengewerbe, Stuttgart, 1904, S. 268-69. 

** Liefmann, Beteiligungsgesellschaften, etc., S. 258 of the first 

*** Schulze-Gaevernitz in Grundriss der Sozialdkonomie, V, 2, 
S. 110. 



thing. Here is an example taken from the German review, 
Die Bank, for May 1914: 

"The Spring Steel Company of Kassel was regarded some 
years ago as being one of the most profitable enterprises 
in Germany. Through bad management its dividends fell 
from 15 per cent to nil. It appears that the Board, without 
consulting the shareholders, had loaned six million marks to 
one of its 'daughter companies', the Hassia Company, which 
had a nominal capital of only some hundreds of thousands 
of marks. This commitment, amounting to nearly treble 
the capital of the 'mother company' was never mentioned 
in its balance-sheets. This omission was quite legal and could 
be hushed up for two whole years because it did not violate 
any point of company law. The chairman of the Supervisory 
Board, who as the responsible head had signed the false 
balance-sheets, was, and still is, the president of the Kassel 
Chamber of Commerce. The shareholders only heard of the 
loan to the Hassia Company, long afterwards, when it had 
been proved to be a mistake" ... (the writer should put this 
word in inverted commas) ... "and when Spring Steel shares 
dropped nearly 100 per cent, because those in the know were 
getting rid of them.... 

"This typical example of balance-sheet jugglery, quite 
common in joint-stock companies, explains why their Boards 
of Directors are willing to undertake risky transactions 
with a far lighter heart than individual businessmen. Mod- 
ern methods of drawing up balance-sheets not only make it 
possible to conceal doubtful undertakings from the ordinary 
shareholder, but also allow the people most concerned to 
escape the consequence of unsuccessful speculation by sell- 
ing their shares in time when the individual businessman 
risks his own skin in everything he does.... 

"The balance-sheets of many joint-stock companies put 
us in mind of the palimpsests of the Middle Ages from which 
the visible inscription had first to be erased in order to 
discover beneath it another inscription giving the real mean- 
ing of the document. [Palimpsests are parchment documents 
from which the original inscription has been erased and 
another inscription imposed.] 

"The simplest and, therefore, most common procedure for 
making balance-sheets indecipherable is to divide a single 



business into several parts by setting up 'daughter compa- 
nies' — or by annexing them. The advantages of this system 
for various purposes — legal and illegal — are so evident 
that big companies which do not employ it are quite the 

As an example of a huge monopolist company that exten- 
sively employs this system, the author quotes the famous 
General Electric Company (the A.E.G., to which I shall 
refer again later on). In 1912, it was calculated that this 
company held shares in 175 to 200 other companies, dominat- 
ing them, of course, and thus controlling a total capital 
of about 1,500 million marks.** 

None of the rules of control, the publication of balance- 
sheets, the drawing up of balance-sheets according to a 
definite form, the public auditing of accounts, etc., the 
things about which well-intentioned professors and offi- 
cials — that is, those imbued with the good intention of 
defending and prettyfying capitalism — discourse to the 
public, are of any avail; for private property is sacred, and 
no one can be prohibited from buying, selling, exchanging 
or hypothecating shares, etc. 

The extent to which this "holding system" has developed 
in the big Russian banks may be judged by the figures given 
by E. Agahd, who for fifteen years was an official of the 
Russo-Chinese Bank and who, in May 1914, published a 
book, not altogether correctly entitled Big Banks and the 
World Market.*** The author divides the big Russian banks 
into two main groups: (a) banks that come under the 
"holding system", and (6) "independent" banks — "indepen- 
dence", however, being arbitrarily taken to mean indepen- 
dence of foreign banks. The author divides the first 
group into three subgroups: (1) German holdings, (2) British 
holdings, and (3) French holdings, having in view the 

*L. Eschwege, "Tochtergesellschaften" in Die Bank, 1914, 1, 
S. 545. 

**Kurt Heinig, "Der Weg des Elektrotrusts" in Die Neue Zeit, 
1912, 30. Jahrg., 2, S. 484. 

*** E. Agahd, Grossbanken und Weltmarkt. Die wirtschaftliche und 
politische Bedeutung der Grossbanken im Weltmarkt unter Beriicksich- 
tigung ihres Einflusses auf Russlands Volkswirtschaft und die deutsche- 
russischen Beziehungen, Berlin, 1914. 



"holdings" and domination of the big foreign banks of the 
particular country mentioned. The author divides the capital 
of the banks into "productively" invested capital (indus- 
trial and commercial undertakings), and "speculatively" 
invested capital (in Stock Exchange and financial opera- 
tions), assuming, from his petty-bourgeois reformist point of 
view, that it is possible, under capitalism, to separate the 
first form of investment from the second and to abolish the 
second form. 

Here are the figures he supplies: 

Bank Assets 

(According to Reports for October-November 1913) 
000,000 rubles 

Capital invested 

s " s 

Groups of Russian banks Produc- Specula- Total 

tively tively 

a 1) Four banks: Siberian Commercial, 
Russian, International, and Discount 

Bank _ 413.7 859.1 1,272.8 

a 2) Two banks: Commercial and Indus- 
trial, and Russo-British 239.3 169.1 408.4 

a 3) Five banks: Russian-Asiatic, St. 
Petersburg Private, Azov-Don, 
Union Moscow, Russo-French Com- 
mercial 711.8 661.2 1,373.0 

(11 banks) Total: a) = 1,364.8 1,689.4 3,054.2 

b) Eight banks: Moscow Merchants 
Volga-Kama, Junker and Co., St. 
Petersburg Commercial (formerly 
Wawelberg), Bank of Moscow (for- 
merly Ryabushinsky), Moscow Dis- 
count, Moscow Commercial, Moscow 

Private 504.2 391.1 895.3 

(19 banks) Total 1,869.0 2,080.5 3,949.5 

According to these figures, of the approximately 4,000 
million rubles making up the "working" capital of the big 
banks, more than three- fourths, more than 3,000 million, 
belonged to banks which in reality were only "daughter 
companies" of foreign banks, and chiefly of Paris banks 
(the famous trio: Union Parisienne, Paris et Pays-Bas 



and Societe Generale), and of Berlin banks (particularly 
the Deutsche Bank and Disconto-Gesellschaft). Two of the 
biggest Russian banks, the Russian (Russian Bank for 
Foreign Trade) and the International (St. Petersburg Inter- 
national Commercial Bank), between 1906 and 1912 increased 
their capital from 44 to 98 million rubles, and their 
reserves from 15 million to 39 million "employing three- 
fourths German capital". The first bank belongs to the 
Berlin Deutsche Bank "concern" and the second to the 
Berlin Disconto-Gesellschaft. The worthy Agahd is deeply 
indignant at the majority of the shares being held by the 
Berlin banks, so that the Russian shareholders are, there- 
fore, powerless. Naturally, the country which exports capi- 
tal skims the cream; for example, the Berlin Deutsche Bank, 
before placing the shares of the Siberian Commercial Bank 
on the Berlin market, kept them in its portfolio for a whole 
year, and then sold them at the rate of 193 for 100, that is, 
at nearly twice their nominal value, "earning" a profit of 
nearly six million rubles, which Hilferding calls "promoter's 

Our author puts the total "capacity" of the principal St. 
Petersburg banks at 8,235 million rubles, well over 8,000 
million, and the "holdings", or rather, the extent to which 
foreign banks dominated them, he estimates as follows: 
French banks, 55 per cent; British, 10 per cent; German, 
35 per cent. The author calculates that of the total of 8,235 
million rubles of functioning capital, 3,687 million rubles, 
or over 40 per cent, fall to the share of the Produgol and 
Prodamet syndicates 89 and the syndicates in the oil, 
metallurgical and cement industries. Thus, owing to the 
formation of capitalist monopolies, the merging of bank 
and industrial capital has also made enormous strides in 

Finance capital, concentrated in a few hands and 
exercising a virtual monopoly, exacts enormous and ever- 
increasing profits from the floating of companies, issue of 
stock, state loans, etc., strengthens the domination of the 
financial oligarchy and levies tribute upon the whole of 
society for the benefit of monopolists. Here is an example, 
taken from a multitude of others, of the "business" methods 
of the American trusts, quoted by Hilferding. In 1887, 



Havemeyer founded the Sugar Trust by amalgamating fifteen 
small firms, whose total capital amounted to 6,500,000 
dollars. Suitably "watered", as the Americans say, the 
capital of the trust was declared to be 50 million dollars. 
This "over-capitalisation" anticipated the monopoly profits, 
in the same way as the United States Steel Corporation 
anticipates its monopoly profits in buying up as many iron 
ore fields as possible. In fact, the Sugar Trust set up monop- 
oly prices, which secured it such profits that it could pay 
10 per cent dividend on capital "watered" sevenfold, or 
about 70 per cent on the capital actually invested at the time 
the trust was formedl In 1909, the capital of the Sugar Trust 
amounted to 90 million dollars. In twenty-two years, it 
had increased its capital more than tenfold. 

In France the domination of the "financial oligarchy" 
(Against the Financial Oligarchy in France, the title of the 
well-known book by Lysis, the fifth edition of which was 
published in 1908) assumed a form that was only slightly 
different. Four of the most powerful banks enjoy, not a 
relative, but an "absolute monopoly" in the issue of bonds. 
In reality, this is a "trust of big banks". And monopoly 
ensures monopoly profits from bond issues. Usually a 
borrowing country does not get more than 90 per cent of the 
sum of the loan, the remaining 10 per cent goes to the banks 
and other middlemen. The profit made by the banks out of 
the Russo-Chinese loan of 400 million francs amounted to 
8 per cent; out of the Russian (1904) loan of 800 million 
francs the profit amounted to 10 per cent; and out of the 
Moroccan (1904) loan of 62,500,000 francs it amounted to 
18.75 per cent. Capitalism, which began its development 
with petty usury capital, is ending its development with 
gigantic usury capital. "The French," says Lysis, "are the 
usurers of Europe." All the conditions of economic life are 
being profoundly modified by this transformation of capi- 
talism. With a stationary population, and stagnant indus- 
try, commerce and shipping, the "country" can grow rich 
by usury. "Fifty persons, representing a capital of eight 
million francs, can control 2,000 million francs deposited 
in four banks." The "holding system", with which we are 
already familiar, leads to the same result. One of the biggest 
banks, the Societe Generale, for instance, issues 64,000 



bonds for its "daughter company", the Egyptian Sugar 
Refineries. The bonds are issued at 150 per cent, i.e., the bank 
gains 50 centimes on the franc. The dividends of the new 
company were found to be fictitious, the "public" lost from 
90 to 100 million francs. "One of the directors of the Societe 
Generale was a member of the board of directors of the 
Sugar Refineries." It is not surprising that the author is 
driven to the conclusion that "the French Republic is a 
financial monarchy"; "it is the complete domination of the 
financial oligarchy; the latter dominates over the press and 
the government."* 

The extraordinarily high rate of profit obtained from 
the issue of bonds, which is one of the principal functions 
of finance capital, plays a very important part in the 
development and consolidation of the financial oligarchy. 
"There is not a single business of this type within the 
country that brings in profits even approximately equal to 
those obtained from the flotation of foreign loans," says 
Die Bank.** 

"No banking operation brings in profits comparable with 
those obtained from the issue of securities!" According to 
the German Economist, the average annual profits made on 
the issue of industrial stock were as follows: 

Per cent 

1895 38.6 

1896 36.1 

1897 66.7 

1898 67.7 

1899 66.9 

1900 55.2 

"In the ten years from 1891 to 1900, more than a thousand 
million marks were 'earned' by issuing German industrial 

During periods of industrial boom, the profits of finance 
capital are immense, but during periods of depression, 

* Lysis, Contre Voligarchie financiere en France, 5 ed., Paris, 1908, 
pp. 11, 12, 26, 39, 40, 48. 

**Die Bank, 1913, No. 7, S. 630. 
*** Stillich, op. cit., S. 143, also W. Sombart. Die deutsche Volks- 
wirtschaft im 19. Jahrhundert, 2. Aufl., 1909, S. 526, Anlage 8. 



small and unsound businesses go out of existence, and the 
big banks acquire "holdings" in them by buying them up for 
a mere song, or participate in profitable schemes for their 
"reconstruction" and "reorganisation". In the "reconstruc- 
tion" of undertakings which have been running at a loss, 
"the share capital is written down, that is, profits are 
distributed on a smaller capital and continue to be calculated 
on this smaller basis. Or, if the income has fallen to zero, 
new capital is called in, which, combined with the old and 
less remunerative capital, will bring in an adequate return. 
"Incidentally," adds Hilferding, "all these reorganisations 
and reconstructions have a twofold significance for the banks: 
first, as profitable transactions; and secondly, as oppor- 
tunities for securing control of the companies in diffi- 

Here is an instance. The Union Mining Company of Dort- 
mund was founded in 1872. Share capital was issued to the 
amount of nearly 40 million marks and the market price of 
the shares rose to 170 after it had paid a 12 per cent dividend 
for its first year. Finance capital skimmed the cream and 
earned a trifle of something like 28 million marks. The prin- 
cipal sponsor of this company was that very big German 
Disconto-Gesellschaft which so successfully attained a 
capital of 300 million marks. Later, the dividends of the 
Union declined to nil; the shareholders had to consent to a 
"writing down" of capital, that is, to losing some of it in 
order not to lose it all. By a series of "reconstructions", 
more than 73 million marks were written off the books of 
the Union in the course of thirty years. "At the present time, 
the original shareholders of the company possess only 5 per 
cent of the nominal value of their shares"** but the banks 
"earned something" out of every "reconstruction". 

Speculation in land situated in the suburbs of rapidly 
growing big towns is a particularly profitable operation for 
finance capital. The monopoly of the banks merges here with 
the monopoly of ground-rent and with monopoly of the means 
of communication, since the rise in the price of land and the 
possibility of selling it profitably in lots, etc., is mainly 

* Finance Capital, p. 172. 
** Stillich, op. cit., S. 138 and Liefmann, S. 51. 



dependent on good means of communication with the centre 
of the town; and these means of communication are in the 
hands of large companies which are connected with these 
same banks through the holding system and the distribu- 
tion of seats on the boards. As a result we get 
what the German writer, L. Eschwege, a contributor to 
Die Bank who has made a special study of real estate busi- 
ness and mortgages, etc., calls a "bog". Frantic speculation 
in suburban building lots; collapse of building enterprises 
like the Berlin firm of Boswau and Knauer, which acquired 
as much as 100 million marks with the help of the "sound 
and solid" Deutsche Bank — the latter, of course, acting 
through the holding system, i.e., secretly, behind the scenes 
— and got out of it with a loss of "only" 12 million marks, 
then the ruin of small proprietors and of workers who get 
nothing from the fictitious building firms, fraudulent deals 
with the "honest" Berlin police and administration for the 
purpose of gaining control of the issue of cadastral certifi- 
cates, building licences, etc., etc.* 

"American ethics", which the European professors and 
well-meaning bourgeois so hypocritically deplore, have, in 
the age of finance capital, become the ethics of literally 
every large city in any country. 

At the beginning of 1914, there was talk in Berlin of 
the formation of a "transport trust", i.e., of establishing 
"community of interests" between the three Berlin transport 
undertakings: the city electric railway, the tramway compa- 
ny and the omnibus company. "We have been aware," wrote 
Die Bank, "that this plan was contemplated ever since it became 
known that the majority of the shares in the bus company 
had been acquired by the other two transport companies.... 
We may fully believe those who are pursuing this aim when 
they say that by uniting the transport services, they will 
secure economies, part of which will in time benefit the 
public. But the question is complicated by the fact that 
behind the transport trust that is being formed are the 
banks, which, if they desire, can subordinate the means of 

* In Die Bank, 1913, S. 952, L. Eschwege, Der Sumpf; ibid., 
1912, 1, S. 223 et seq. 



transportation, which they have monopolised, to the 
interests of their real estate business. To be convinced of the 
reasonableness of such a conjecture, we need only recall 
that the interests of the big bank that encouraged the for- 
mation of the Electric Railway Company were already in- 
volved in it at the time the company was formed. That is 
to say: the interests of this transport undertaking were in- 
terlocked with the real estate interests. The point is that 
the eastern line of this railway was to run across land 
which this bank sold at an enormous profit for itself and for 
several partners in the transactions when it became certain 
the line was to be laid down."* 

A monopoly, once it is formed and controls thousands of 
millions, inevitably penetrates into every sphere of public 
life, regardless of the form of government and all other 
"details". In German economic literature one usually comes 
across obsequious praise of the integrity of the Prussian 
bureaucracy and allusions to the French Panama scandal 90 
and to political corruption in America. But the fact is 
that even bourgeois literature devoted to German banking 
matters constantly has to go far beyond the field of purely 
banking operations; it speaks, for instance, about "the 
attraction of the banks" in reference to the increasing fre- 
quency with which public officials take employment with 
the banks, as follows: "How about the integrity of a state 
official who in his innermost heart is aspiring to a soft job 
in the Behrenstrasse?"** (The Berlin street where the 
head office of the Deutsche Bank is situated.) In 1909, the 
publisher of Die Bank, Alfred Lansburgh, wrote an article 
entitled "The Economic Significance of Byzantinism", in 
which he incidentally referred to Wilhelm IPs tour of 
Palestine, and to "the immediate result of this journey, the 
construction of the Baghdad railway, that fatal 'great 
product of German enterprise', which is more responsible for 
the 'encirclement' than all our political blunders put to- 
gether".*** (By encirclement is meant the policy of Edward VII 

* "Verkehrstrust" in Die Bank, 1914, 1, S. 89. 
** "Der Zug zur Bank" in Die Bank, 1909, 1, S. 79. 
** Ibid., S. 301. 



to isolate Germany and surround her with an imperi- 
alist anti-German alliance.) In 1911, Eschwege, the 
contributor to this same magazine to whom I have already 
referred, wrote an article entitled "Plutocracy and Bureauc- 
racy", in which he exposed, for example, the case of a Ger- 
man official named Volker, who was a zealous member of 
the Cartel Committee and who, it turned out some time 
later, obtained a lucrative post in the biggest cartel, the 
Steel Syndicate. Similar cases, by no means casual, forced 
this bourgeois author to admit that "the economic liberty 
guaranteed by the German Constitution has become in many 
departments of economic life, a meaningless phrase" and that 
under the existing rule of the plutocracy, "even the widest 
political liberty cannot save us from being converted into a 
nation of unfree people".* 

As for Russia, I shall confine myself to one example. 
Some years ago, all the newspapers announced that Davy- 
dov, the director of the Credit Department of the Treasury, 
had resigned his post to take employment with a certain 
big bank at a salary which, according to the contract, would 
total over one million rubles in the course of several years. 
The Credit Department is an institution, the function of 
which is to "co-ordinate the activities of all the credit 
institutions of the country" and which grants subsidies to 
banks in St. Petersburg and Moscow amounting to between 
800 and 1,000 million rubles.** 

It is characteristic of capitalism in general that the 
ownership of capital is separated from the application of 
capital to production, that money capital is separated from 
industrial or productive capital, and that the rentier who 
lives entirely on income obtained from money capital, is 
separated from the entrepreneur and from all who are 
directly concerned in the management of capital. Imperi- 
alism, or the domination of finance capital, is that highest 
stage of capitalism in which this separation reaches vast 
proportions. The supremacy of finance capital over all other 
forms of capital means the predominance of the rentier and 

Ibid., 1911, 2, S. 825; 1913, 2, S. 962. 
E. Agahd, op. cit., S. 202. 



of the financial oligarchy; it means that a small number of 
financially "powerful" states stand out among all the rest. 
The extent to which this process is going on may be judged 
from the statistics on emissions, i.e., the issue of all kinds 
of securities. 

In the Bulletin of the International Statistical Insti- 
tute, A. Neymarck* has published very comprehensive, 
complete and comparative figures covering the issue of 
securities all over the world, which have been repeatedly 
quoted in part in economic literature. The following are 
the totals he gives for four decades: 

Total Issues in Francs per Decade 

1871- 80 76.1 

1881- 90 64.5 

1891-1900 100.4 

1901- 10 197.8 

In the 1870s the total amount of issues for the whole world 
was high, owing particularly to the loans floated in connec- 
tion with the Franco-Prussian War, and the company-pro- 
motion boom which set in in Germany after the war. On the 
whole, the increase was relatively not very rapid during the 
three last decades of the nineteenth century, and only in 
the first ten years of the twentieth century is an enormous 
increase of almost 100 per cent to be observed. Thus the 
beginning of the twentieth century marks the turning- 
point, not only in the growth of monopolies (cartels, syndi- 
cates, trusts), of which we have already spoken, but also in 
the growth of finance capital. 

Neymarck estimates the total amount of issued securities 
current in the world in 1910 at about 815,000 million francs. 
Deducting from this sum amounts which might have been 
duplicated, he reduces the total to 575,000-600,000 million, 

* Bulletin de I institut international de statistique, t. XIX, 
livr. II, La Haye, 1912. Data concerning small states, second column, 
are estimated by adding 20 per cent to the 1902 figures. 



which is distributed among the various countries as follows 
(I take 600,000 million): 

Financial Securities Current in 1910 
(000,000,000 francs) 

Great Britain . ... 142 1 

United States .... 132 I 

France 110 | 

Germany 95 J 


Russia . 
Austria-Hungary . 




Holland 12.5 

Belgium 7.5 

Spain 7.5 

Switzerland 6.25 

Denmark 3.75 

Sweden, Norway, 

Rumania, etc. . . . 2.5 



From these figures we at once see standing out in sharp 
relief four of the richest capitalist countries, each of which 
holds securities to amounts ranging approximately from 
100,000 to 150,000 million francs. Of these four countries, 
two, Britain and France, are the oldest capitalist countries, 
and, as we shall see, possess the most colonies; the other 
two, the United States and Germany, are capitalist coun- 
tries leading in the rapidity of development and the 
degree of extension of capitalist monopolies in industry. To- 
gether, these four countries own 479,000 million francs, that is, 
nearly 80 per cent of the world's finance capital. In one 
way or another, nearly the whole of the rest of the world is 
more or less the debtor to and tributary of these interna- 
tional banker countries, these four "pillars" of world finance 

It is particularly important to examine the part which 
the export of capital plays in creating the international 
network of dependence on and connections of finance capi- 


Typical of the old capitalism, when free competition held 
undivided sway, was the export of goods. Typical of the 
latest stage of capitalism, when monopolies rule, is the export 
of capital. 

Capitalism is commodity production at its highest stage 
of development, when labour-power itself becomes a commod- 
ity. The growth of internal exchange, and, particularly, 



of international exchange, is a characteristic feature of 
capitalism. The uneven and spasmodic development of indi- 
vidual enterprises, individual branches of industry and 
individual countries is inevitable under the capitalist 
system. England became a capitalist country before any other, 
and by the middle of the nineteenth century, having adopt- 
ed free trade, claimed to be the "workshop of the world", 
the supplier of manufactured goods to all countries, which 
in exchange were to keep her provided with raw materials. 
But in the last quarter of the nineteenth century, this 
monopoly was already undermined; for other countries, shel- 
tering themselves with "protective" tariffs, developed into 
independent capitalist states. On the threshold of the twen- 
tieth century we see the formation of a new type of monop- 
oly: firstly, monopolist associations of capitalists in all 
capitalistically developed countries; secondly, the monop- 
olist position of a few very rich countries, in which the 
accumulation of capital has reached gigantic proportions. 
An enormous "surplus of capital" has arisen in the advanced 

It goes without saying that if capitalism could develop 
agriculture, which today is everywhere lagging terribly 
behind industry, if it could raise the living standards of 
the masses, who in spite of the amazing technical progress 
are everywhere still half-starved and poverty-stricken, there 
could be no question of a surplus of capital. This "argument" 
is very often advanced by the petty-bourgeois critics of capi- 
talism. But if capitalism did these things it would not be 
capitalism; for both uneven development and a semi-star- 
vation level of existence of the masses are fundamental and 
inevitable conditions and constitute premises of this mode 
of production. As long as capitalism remains what it is, 
surplus capital will be utilised not for the purpose of rais- 
ing the standard of living of the masses in a given country, 
for this would mean a decline in profits for the capitalists, 
but for the purpose of increasing profits by exporting capi- 
tal abroad to the backward countries. In these backward 
countries profits are usually high, for capital is scarce, the 
price of land is relatively low, wages are low, raw materials 
are cheap. The export of capital is made possible by a number 
of backward countries having already been drawn into 



world capitalist intercourse; main railways have either 
been or are being built in those countries, elementary con- 
ditions for industrial development have been created, etc. 
The need to export capital arises from the fact that in a 
few countries capitalism has become "overripe" and (owing 
to the backward state of agriculture and the poverty of the 
masses) capital cannot find a field for "profitable" invest- 

Here are approximate figures showing the amount of 
capital invested abroad by the three principal countries*: 

Capital Invested Abroad 

(000,000,000 francs) 






1862 . . . 


1872 . . . 


10 (1869) 

1882 . . . 


15 (1880) 


1893 . . . 


20 (1890) 


1902 . . . 




1914 . . . 

. 75-100.0 



This table shows that the export of capital reached enor- 
mous dimensions only at the beginning of the twentieth 
century. Before the war the capital invested abroad by 
the three principal countries amounted to between 175,000 
million and 200,000 million francs. At the modest rate of 
5 per cent, the income from this sum should reach from 
8,000 to 10,000 million francs a year — a sound basis for 
the imperialist oppression and exploitation of most of the 
countries and nations of the world, for the capitalist parasi- 
tism of a handful of wealthy states! 

* Hobson, Imperialism, London, 1902, p. 58; Riesser, op. cit., 
S. 395 und 404; P. Arndt in Weltwirtschaftliches Archiv, Bd. 7, 1916, 
S. 35; Neymarck in Bulletin; Hilferding, Finance Capital, p. 492; 
Lloyd George, Speech in the House of Commons, May 4, 1915, report- 
ed in the Daily Telegraph, May 5, 1915; B. Harms, Probleme der 
Weltwirtschaft, Jena, 1912, S. 235 et seq.; Dr. Siegmund Schilder, 
Entwicklungstendenzen der Weltwirtschaft, Berlin, 1912, Band I, 
S. 150; George Paish, "Great Britain's Capital Investments, etc.", 
in Journal of the Royal Statistical Society, Vol. LXXIV, 1910-11, 
p. 167 et seq.; Georges Diouritch, L'Expansion des banques allemandes 
a Vetranger, ses rapports avec le developpement economique de VAlle- 
magne, Paris, 1909, p. 84. 



How is this capital invested abroad distributed among 
the various countries? Where is it invested? Only an ap- 
proximate answer can be given to these questions, but it is 
one sufficient to throw light on certain general relations 
and connections of modern imperialism. 

Distribution {Approximate) of Foreign Capital 

in Different Parts c 

if the Globe 

(circa 1910) 














Asia, Africa and 

Australia ... 29 




Total ... 70 




The principal spheres of investment of British capital 
are the British colonies, which are very large also in Amer- 
ica (for example, Canada), not to mention Asia, etc. In 
this case, enormous exports of capital are bound up most 
closely with vast colonies, of the importance of which for 
imperialism I shall speak later. In the case of France 
the situation is different. French capital exports are in- 
vested mainly in Europe, primarily in Russia (at least ten 
thousand million francs). This is mainly loan capital, gov- 
ernment loans, and not capital invested in industrial under- 
takings. Unlike British colonial imperialism, French 
imperialism might be termed usury imperialism. In the case 
of Germany, we have a third type; colonies are inconsid- 
erable, and German capital invested abroad is divided most 
evenly between Europe and America. 

The export of capital influences and greatly accelerates 
the development of capitalism in those countries to which 
it is exported. While, therefore, the export of capital may 
tend to a certain extent to arrest development in the capital- 
exporting countries, it can only do so by expanding and 
deepening the further development of capitalism throughout 
the world. 

The capital-exporting countries are nearly always able 
to obtain certain "advantages", the character of which throws 
light on the peculiarity of the epoch of finance capital and 



monopoly. The following passage, for instance, appeared in 
the Berlin review, Die Bank, for October 1913: 

"A comedy worthy of the pen of Aristophanes is lately 
being played on the international capital market. Numerous 
foreign countries, from Spain to the Balkan states, from 
Russia to Argentina, Brazil and China, are openly or 
secretly coming into the big money market with demands, 
sometimes very persistent, for loans. The money markets 
are not very bright at the moment and the political outlook 
is not promising. But not a single money market dares to 
refuse a loan for fear that its neighbour may forestall it, 
consent to grant a loan and so secure some reciprocal service. 
In these international transactions the creditor nearly always 
manages to secure some extra benefit: a favourable clause 
in a commercial treaty, a coaling station, a contract to con- 
struct a harbour, a fat concession, or an order for guns."* 

Finance capital has created the epoch of monopolies, and 
monopolies introduce everywhere monopolist principles: 
the utilisation of "connections" for profitable transactions 
takes the place of competition on the open market. The most 
usual thing is to stipulate that part of the loan granted 
shall be spent on purchases in the creditor country, partic- 
ularly on orders for war materials, or for ships, etc. In 
the course of the last two decades (1890-1910), France has 
very often resorted to this method. The export of capital 
thus becomes a means of encouraging the export of commodi- 
ties. In this connection, transactions between particularly 
big firms assume a form which, as Schilder** "mildly" puts 
it, "borders on corruption". Krupp in Germany, Schneider in 
France, Armstrong in Britain are instances of firms which 
have close connections with powerful banks and govern- 
ments and which cannot easily be "ignored" when a loan is 
being arranged. 

France, when granting loans to Russia, "squeezed" her 
in the commercial treaty of September 16, 1905, stipulating 
for certain concessions to run till 1917. She did the same 
in the commercial treaty with Japan of August 19, 1911. 
The tariff war between Austria and Serbia, which lasted, 

Die Bank, 1913, 2, S. 1024. 
Schilder, op. cit., S. 346, 350, 371. 



with a seven months' interval, from 1906 to 1911, was partly 
caused by Austria and France competing to supply Serbia 
with war materials. In January 1912, Paul Deschanel stat- 
ed in the Chamber of Deputies that from 1908 to 1911 
French firms had supplied war materials to Serbia to the 
value of 45 million francs. 

A report from the Austro-Hungarian Consul at Sao-Paulo 
(Brazil) states: "The Brazilian railways are being built 
chiefly by French, Belgian, British and German capital. 
In the financial operations connected with the construction 
of these railways the countries involved stipulate for orders 
for the necessary railway materials." 

Thus finance capital, literally, one might say, spreads 
its net over all countries of the world. An important role 
in this is played by banks founded in the colonies and by 
their branches. German imperialists look with envy at the 
"old" colonial countries which have been particularly "suc- 
cessful" in providing for themselves in this respect. In 1904, 
Great Britain had 50 colonial banks with 2,279 branches 
(in 1910 there were 72 banks with 5,449 branches); France 
had 20 with 136 branches; Holland, 16 with 68 branches; 
and Germany had "only" 13 with 70 branches.* The Ameri- 
can capitalists, in their turn, are jealous of the English and 
German: "In South America," they complained in 1915, 
"five German banks have forty branches and five British 

banks have seventy branches Britain and Germany have 

invested in Argentina, Brazil, and Uruguay in the last 
twenty-five years approximately four thousand million 
dollars, and as a result together enjoy 46 per cent of the total 
trade of these three countries."** 

The capital-exporting countries have divided the world 
among themselves in the figurative sense of the term. But 
finance capital has led to the actual division of the world. 

*Riesser, op. cit., 4th ed., S. 375, Diouritch, p. 283. 
** The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social 
Science, Vol. LIX, May 1915, p. 301. In the same volume on p. 331, 
we read that the well-known statistician Paish, in the last issue of 
the financial magazine The Statist, estimated the amount of capital 
exported by Britain, Germany, France, Belgium and Holland at 
$40,000 million, i.e., 200,000 million francs. 




Monopolist capitalist associations, cartels, syndicates 
and trusts first divided the home market among themselves 
and obtained more or less complete possession of the indus- 
try of their own country. But under capitalism the home mar- 
ket is inevitably bound up with the foreign market. Capi- 
talism long ago created a world market. As the export of 
capital increased, and as the foreign and colonial connections 
and "spheres of influence" of the big monopolist associations 
expanded in all ways, things "naturally" gravitated towards 
an international agreement among these associations, and 
towards the formation of international cartels. 

This is a new stage of world concentration of capital 
and production, incomparably higher than the preceding 
stages. Let us see how this supermonopoly develops. 

The electrical industry is highly typical of the latest 
technical achievements and is most typical of capitalism at 
the end of the nineteenth and the beginning of the twentieth 
centuries. This industry has developed most in the two 
leaders of the new capitalist countries, the United States 
and Germany. In Germany, the crisis of 1900 gave a par- 
ticularly strong impetus to its concentration. During the cri- 
sis, the banks, which by that time had become fairly well 
merged with industry, enormously accelerated and inten- 
sified the ruin of relatively small firms and their absorption 
by the large ones. "The banks," writes Jeidels, "refused a 
helping hand to the very firms in greatest need of capital, 
and brought on first a frenzied boom and then the hopeless 
failure of the companies which have not been connected with 
them closely enough."* 

As a result, after 1900, concentration in Germany pro- 
gressed with giant strides. Up to 1900 there had been seven 
or eight "groups" in the electrical industry. Each consisted 
of several companies (altogether there were 28) and each was 
backed by from 2 to 11 banks. Between 1908 and 1912 all 
these groups were merged into two, or one. The following 
diagram shows the process: 

Jeidels, op. cit., S. 232. 



Groups in the Electrical Industry 

Prior Felten & Lahmeyer Union Siemens Schuckert Berg- Kum- 

to Guillaume A. E.G. & Halske & Co. mann mer 

1900 s ( y | n ( y | | 

Felten & Lahmeyer A. E.G. Siemens & Halske- Berg- Failed 

(G.E.C.) Schuckert mann in 1900 

By 1912: A. E.G. (G.E.C.) Siemens & Halske-Schuckert 

Sn v ^ 

(In close "co-operation" since 1908) 

The famous A. E.G. (General Electric Company), which 
grew up in this way, controls 175 to 200 companies (through 
the "holding" system), and a total capital of approximately 
1,500 million marks. Of direct agencies abroad alone, it 
has thirty-four, of which twelve are joint-stock companies, 
in more than ten countries. As early as 1904 the amount of 
capital invested abroad by the German electrical industry 
was estimated at 233 million marks. Of this sum, 62 million 
were invested in Russia. Needless to say, the A. E.G. is a 
huge "combine" — its manufacturing companies alone num- 
ber no less than sixteen — producing the most diverse arti- 
cles, from cables and insulators to motor-cars and flying 

But concentration in Europe was also a component part 
of the process of concentration in America, which developed 
in the following way: 

General Electric Company 

S ' N 

United States: Thomson-Houston Co. Edison Co. establishes in 
establishes a firm in Europe the French Edison Co. 
Europe which transfers its patents to 

the German firm 

Germany: Union Electric Co. General Electric Co. (A. E.G.) 

General Electric Co. (A. E.G.) 

Thus, two electrical "great powers" were formed: "there 
are no other electrical companies in the world completely 
independent of them," wrote Heinig in his article "The Path 
of the Electric Trust". An idea, although far from complete, 
of the turnover and the size of the enterprises of the two 
"trusts" can be obtained from the following figures: 




Number Net profits 
of (000,000 
employees marks) 

America: General Electric Co. 





Germany: General Electric Co. 
(A. E.G.) 





And then, in 1907 the German and American trusts con- 
cluded an agreement by which they divided the world be- 
tween them. Competition between them ceased. The Ameri- 
can General Electric Company (G.E.C.) "got" the United 
States and Canada. The German General Electric Company 
(A. E.G.) "got" Germany, Austria, Russia, Holland, Den- 
mark, Switzerland, Turkey and the Balkans. Special agree- 
ments, naturally secret, were concluded regarding the pene- 
tration of "daughter companies" into new branches of in- 
dustry, into "new" countries formally not yet allotted. The 
two trusts were to exchange inventions and experiments.* 

The difficulty of competing against this trust, actually 
a single world-wide trust controlling a capital of several 
thousand million, with "branches", agencies, representa- 
tives, connections, etc., in every corner of the world, is 
self-evident. But the division of the world between two 
powerful trusts does not preclude redivision if the relation of 
forces changes as result of uneven development, war, bank- 
ruptcy, etc. 

An instructive example of an attempt at such a redivi- 
sion, of the struggle for redivision, is provided by the oil 

"The world oil market," wrote Jeidels in 1905, "is even 
today still divided between two great financial groups — 
Rockefeller's American Standard Oil Co., and Rothschild 
and Nobel, the controlling interests of the Russian oilfields 
in Baku. The two groups are closely connected. But for 
several years five enemies have been threatening their mo- 
nopoly"**: (1) the exhaustion of the American oilfields; 

* Riesser, op cit.; Diouritch, op. cit., p. 239; Kurt Heinig, 
op. cit. 

** Jeidels, op. cit., S. 193. 



(2) the competition of the firm of Mantashev of Baku; (3) 
the Austrian oilfields; (4) the Rumanian oilfields; (5) the 
overseas oilfields, particularly in the Dutch colonies (the 
extremely rich firms, Samuel, and Shell, also connected 
with British capital). The three last groups are connected 
with the big German banks, headed by the huge Deutsche 
Bank. These banks independently and systematically 
developed the oil industry in Rumania, for example, in or- 
der to have a foothold of their "own". In 1907, the foreign 
capital invested in the Rumanian oil industry was estimated 
at 185 million francs, of which 74 million was German 

A struggle began for the "division of the world", as, in 
fact, it is called in economic literature. On the one hand, 
the Rockefeller "oil trust" wanted to lay its hands on every- 
thing; it formed a "daughter company" right in Holland, and 
bought up oilfields in the Dutch Indies, in order to strike 
at its principal enemy, the Anglo-Dutch Shell trust. On the 
other hand, the Deutsche Bank and the other German banks 
aimed at "retaining" Rumania "for themselves" and at unit- 
ing her with Russia against Rockefeller. The latter pos- 
sessed for more capital and an excellent system of oil transpor- 
tation and distribution. The struggle had to end, and did end 
in 1907, with the utter defeat of the Deutsche Bank, which 
was confronted with the alternative: either to liquidate its 
"oil interests" and lose millions, or submit. It chose to sub- 
mit, and concluded a very disadvantageous agreement with 
the "oil trust". The Deutsche Bank agreed "not to attempt 
anything which might injure American interests". Provision 
was made, however, for the annulment of the agreement in 
the event of Germany establishing a state oil monopoly. 

Then the "comedy of oil" began. One of the German finance 
kings, von Gwinner, a director of the Deutsche Bank, 
through his private secretary, Stauss, launched a campaign 
for a state oil monopoly. The gigantic machine of the huge 
German bank and all its wide "connections" were set in 
motion. The press bubbled over with "patriotic" indignation 
against the "yoke" of the American trust, and, on March 15, 
1911, the Reichstag, by an almost unanimous vote, adopted 

* Diouritch, op. cit. , p. 245. 



a motion asking the government to introduce a bill for the 
establishment of an oil monopoly. The government seized 
upon this "popular" idea, and the game of the Deutsche 
Bank, which hoped to cheat its American counterpart and 
improve its business by a state monopoly, appeared to have 
been won. The German oil magnates already saw visions of 
enormous profits, which would not be less than those of the 
Russian sugar refiners.... But, firstly, the big German banks 
quarrelled among themselves over the division of the spoils. 
The Disconto-Gesellschaft exposed the covetous aims of the 
Deutsche Bank; secondly, the government took fright at the 
prospect of a struggle with Rockefeller, for it was very doubt- 
ful whether Germany could be sure of obtaining oil from 
other sources (the Rumanian output was small); thirdly, 
just at that time the 1913 credits of a thousand million 
marks were voted for Germany's war preparations. The oil 
monopoly project was postponed. The Rockefeller "oil trust" 
came out of the struggle, for the time being, victorious. 

The Berlin review, Die Bank, wrote in this connection 
that Germany could fight the oil trust only by establishing 
an electricity monopoly and by converting water-power into 
cheap electricity. "But," the author added, "the electricity 
monopoly will come when the producers need it, that is 
so say, when the next great crash in the electrical industry 
is imminent, and when the gigantic, expensive power sta- 
tions now being put up at great cost everywhere by private 
electrical concerns, which are already obtaining certain 
franchises from towns, from states, etc., can no longer work 
at a profit. Water-power will then have to be used. But it 
will be impossible to convert it into cheap electricity at 
state expense; it will also have to be handed over to a 
'private monopoly controlled by the state', because private 
industry has already concluded a number of contracts and has 

stipulated for heavy compensation So it was with the 

nitrate monopoly, so it is with the oil monopoly, so it will 
be with the electric power monopoly. It is time our state 
socialists, who allow themselves to be blinded by a beauti- 
ful principle, understood, at last, that in Germany the 
monopolies have never pursued the aim, nor have they had the 
result, of benefiting the consumer, or even of handing over 
to the state part of the promoter's profits; they have served 



only to facilitate, at the expense of the state, the recovery 
of private industries which were on the verge of bankruptcy."* 

Such are the valuable admissions which the German bour- 
geois economists are forced to make. We see plainly here 
how private and state monopolies are interwoven in the epoch 
of finance capital; how both are but separate links in the 
imperialist struggle between the big monopolists for the 
division of the world. 

In merchant shipping, the tremendous development of 
concentration has ended also in the division of the world. 
In Germany two powerful companies have come to the fore: 
the Hamburg-Amerika and the Norddeutscher Lloyd, each 
having a capital of 200 million marks (in stocks and bonds) 
and possessing shipping tonnage to the value of 185 to 189 
million marks. On the other hand, in America, on January 1, 
1903, the International Mercantile Marine Co., known as 
the Morgan trust was formed; it united nine American and 
British steamship companies, and possessed a capital of 
120 million dollars (480 million marks). As early as 1903, 
the German giants and this American-British trust conclud- 
ed an agreement to divide the world with a consequent di- 
vision of profits. The German companies undertook not to 
compete in the Anglo-American traffic. Which ports were to 
be "allotted" to each was precisely stipulated; a joint commit- 
tee of control was set up, etc. This agreement was concluded 
for twenty years, with the prudent provision for its annul- 
ment in the event of war.** 

Extremely instructive also is the story of the formation 
of the International Rail Cartel. The first attempt of the 
British, Belgian and German rail manufacturers to form 
such a cartel was made as early as 1884, during a severe 
industrial depression. The manufacturers agreed not to com- 
pete with one another in the home markets of the countries 
involved, and they divided the foreign markets in the follow- 
ing quotas: Great Britain, 66 per cent; Germany, 27 per 
cent; Belgium, 7 per cent. India was reserved entirely for 
Great Britain. Joint war was declared against a British 
firm which remained outside the cartel, the cost of which 

*Die Bank, 1912, 1, S. 1036; 1912, 2, S. 629; 1913, 1, S. 388. 
**Riesser, op. cit., S. 125. 



was met by a percentage levy on all sales. But in 1886 the 
cartel collapsed when two British firms retired from it. 
It is characteristic that agreement could not be achieved 
during subsequent boom periods. 

At the beginning of 1904, the German steel syndicate was 
formed. In November 1904, the International Rail Cartel 
was revived, with the following quotas: Britain, 53.5 per 
cent, Germany, 28.83 per cent; Belgium, 17.67 per cent. 
France came in later and received 4.8 per cent, 5.8 per cent 
and 6.4 per cent in the first, second and third year respec- 
tively, over and above the 100 per cent limit, i.e., out of 
a total of 104.8 per cent, etc. In 1905, the United States 
Steel Corporation entered the cartel; then Austria and 
Spain. "At the present time," wrote Vogelstein in 1910, 
"the division of the world is complete, and the big consum- 
ers, primarily the state railways — since the world has been 
parcelled out without consideration for their interests — 
can now dwell like the poet in the heavens of Jupiter."* 

Let me also mention the International Zinc Syndicate 
which was established in 1909 and which precisely appor- 
tioned output among five groups of factories: German, Bel- 
gian, French, Spanish and British; and also the International 
Dynamite Trust, which, Liefmann says, is "quite a modern, 
close alliance of all the German explosives manufacturers 
who, with the French and American dynamite manufactur- 
ers, organised in a similar manner, have divided the whole 
world among themselves, so to speak".** 

Liefmann calculated that in 1897 there were altogether 
about forty international cartels in which Germany had a 
share, while in 1910 there were about a hundred. 

Certain bourgeois writers (now joined by Karl Kautsky, 
who has completely abandoned the Marxist position he had 
held, for example, in 1909) have expressed the opinion that 
international cartels, being one of the most striking expres- 
sions of the internationalisation of capital, give the hope 
of peace among nations under capitalism. Theoretically, 
this opinion is absolutely absurd, while in practice it is 
sophistry and a dishonest defence of the worst opportunism. 

* Vogelstein, Organisationsformen, S. 100. 

* Liefmann, Kartelle und Trusts, 2. A., S. 161. 



International cartels show to what point capitalist monopo- 
lies have developed, and the object of the struggle between 
the various capitalist associations. This last circumstance is 
the most important; it alone shows us the historico-economic 
meaning of what is taking place; for the forms of the struggle 
may and do constantly change in accordance with varying, 
relatively specific and temporary causes, but the substance 
of the struggle, its class content, positively cannot change 
while classes exist. Naturally, it is in the interests of, for 
example, the German bourgeoisie, to whose side Kautsky 
has in effect gone over in his theoretical arguments (I 
shall deal with this later), to obscure the substance of the pres- 
ent economic struggle (the division of the world) and to 
emphasise now this and now another form of the struggle. 
Kautsky makes the same mistake. Of course, we have in 
mind not only the German bourgeoisie, but the bourgeoisie 
all over the world. The capitalists divide the world, not 
out of any particular malice, but because the degree of con- 
centration which has been reached forces them to adopt 
this method in order to obtain profits. And they divide it 
"in proportion to capital", "in proportion to strength", 
because there cannot be any other method of division under 
commodity production and capitalism. But strength varies 
with the degree of economic and political development. In 
order to understand what is taking place, it is necessary to 
know what questions are settled by the changes in strength. 
The question as to whether these changes are "purely" econom- 
ic or ^on-economic (e.g., military) is a secondary one, 
which cannot in the least affect fundamental views on the 
latest epoch of capitalism. To substitute the question of 
the form of the struggle and agreements (today peaceful, 
tomorrow warlike, the next day warlike again) for the ques- 
tion of the substance of the struggle and agreements between 
capitalist associations is to sink to the role of a sophist. 

The epoch of the latest stage of capitalism shows us that 
certain relations between capitalist associations grow up, 
based on the economic division of the world; while parallel 
to and in connection with it, certain relations grow up 
between political alliances, between states, on the basis of 
the territorial division of the world, of the struggle for 
colonies, of the "struggle for spheres of influence". 




In his book, on "the territorial development of the Euro- 
pean colonies", A. Supan,* the geographer, gives the fol- 
lowing brief summary of this development at the end of the 
nineteenth century: 

Percentage of Territory Belonging to the European Colonial Powers 
(Including the United States) 

1876 1900 Increase or 


Africa 10.8 90.4 +79.6 

Polynesia 56.8 98.9 +42.1 

Asia 51.5 56.6 + 5.1 

Australia 100.0 100.0 

America 27.5 27.2 — 0.3 

"The characteristic feature of this period," he concludes, 
"is, therefore, the division of Africa and Polynesia." As there 
are no unoccupied territories — that is, territories that do 
not belong to any state — in Asia and America, it is neces- 
sary to amplify Supan's conclusion and say that the 
characteristic feature of the period under review is the final 
partitioning of the globe — final, not in the sense that 
repartition is impossible; on the contrary, repartitions are 
possible and inevitable — but in the sense that the colonial 
policy of the capitalist countries has completed the seizure 
of the unoccupied territories on our planet. For the first 
time the world is completely divided up, so that in the 
future only redivision is possible, i.e., territories can only 
pass from one "owner" to another, instead of passing as 
ownerless territory to an "owner". 

Hence, we are living in a peculiar epoch of world colonial 
policy, which is most closely connected with the "latest 
stage in the development of capitalism", with finance 
capital. For this reason, it is essential first of all to deal in 
greater detail with the facts, in order to ascertain as exactly 
as possible what distinguishes this epoch from those pre- 
ceding it, and what the present situation is. In the first 

* A. Supan, Die territoriale Entwicklung der europaischen Kolo- 
nien, 1906, S. 254. 


place, two questions of fact arise here: is an intensification 
of colonial policy, a sharpening of the struggle for colonies, 
observed precisely in the epoch of finance capital? And how, 
in this respect, is the world divided at the present time? 

The American writer, Morris, in his book on the history 
of colonisation,* made an attempt to sum up the data on the 
colonial possessions of Great Britain, France and Germany 
during different periods of the nineteenth century. The fol- 
lowing is a brief summary of the results he has obtained: 

Colonial Possessions 
Great Britain France Germany 








sq. m.) 


sq. m.) 


sq. m.) 
























For Great Britain, the period of the enormous expansion 
of colonial conquests was that between 1860 and 1880, and it 
was also very considerable in the last twenty years of the 
nineteenth century. For France and Germany this period 
falls precisely in these twenty years. We saw above that the 
development of pre-monopoly capitalism, of capitalism in 
which free competition was predominant, reached its limit 
in the 1860s and 1870s. We now see that it is precisely after 
that period that the tremendous "boom" in colonial conquests 
begins, and that the struggle for the territorial division of 
the world becomes extraordinarily sharp. It is beyond doubt, 
therefore, that capitalism's transition to the stage of 
monopoly capitalism, to finance capital, is connected with the 
intensification of the struggle for the partitioning of the 

Hobson, in his work on imperialism, marks the years 
1884-1900 as the epoch of intensified "expansion" of the 
chief European states. According to his estimate, Great 
Britain during these years acquired 3,700,000 square miles 

* Henry C. Morris, The History of Colonization, New York, 1900, 
Vol. II, p. 88; Vol. I, p. 419; Vol. II, p. 304. 



of territory with 57,000,000 inhabitants; France, 3,600,000 
square miles with 36,500,000; Germany, 1,000,000 square 
miles with 14,700,000; Belgium, 900,000 square miles with 
30,000,000; Portugal, 800,000 square miles with 9,000,000 
inhabitants. The scramble for colonies by all the capitalist 
states at the end of the nineteenth century and particu- 
larly since the 1880s is a commonly known fact in the history 
of diplomacy and of foreign policy. 

In the most flourishing period of free competition in 
Great Britain, i.e., between 1840 and 1860, the leading 
British bourgeois politicians were opposed to colonial 
policy and were of the opinion that the liberation of the 
colonies, their complete separation from Britain, was inevi- 
table and desirable. M. Beer, in an article, "Modern British 
Imperialism",* published in 1898, shows that in 1852, Dis- 
raeli, a statesman who was generally inclined towards impe- 
rialism, declared: "The colonies are millstones round our 
necks." But at the end of the nineteenth century the 
British heroes of the hour were Cecil Rhodes and Joseph 
Chamberlain, who openly advocated imperialism and applied 
the imperialist policy in the most cynical manner! 

It is not without interest to observe that even then 
these leading British bourgeois politicians saw the 
connection between what might be called the purely economic 
and the socio-political roots of modern imperialism. Cham- 
berlain advocated imperialism as a "true, wise and eco- 
nomical policy", and pointed particularly to the German, 
American and Belgian competition which Great Britain was 
encountering in the world market. Salvation lies in monop- 
oly, said the capitalists as they formed cartels, syndi- 
cates and trusts. Salvation lies in monopoly, echoed the 
political leaders of the bourgeoisie, hastening to appropri- 
ate the parts of the world not yet shared out. And Cecil 
Rhodes, we are informed by his intimate friend, the journal- 
ist Stead, expressed his imperialist views to him in 1895 
in the following terms: "I was in the East End of London 
[a working-class quarter] yesterday and attended a meeting 
of the unemployed. I listened to the wild speeches, which 

Die Neue Zeit, XVI, I, 1898, S. 302. 



were just a cry for 'bread! bread!' and on my way home I 
pondered over the scene and I became more than ever con- 
vinced of the importance of imperialism My cherished 

idea is a solution for the social problem, i.e., in order to 
save the 40,000,000 inhabitants of the United Kingdom from 
a bloody civil war, we colonial statesmen must acquire new 
lands to settle the surplus population, to provide new mar- 
kets for the goods produced in the factories and mines. The 
Empire, as I have always said, is a bread and butter ques- 
tion. If you want to avoid civil war, you must become 

That was said in 1895 by Cecil Rhodes, millionaire, a 
king of finance, the man who was mainly responsible for 
the Anglo-Boer War. True, his defence of imperialism is 
crude and cynical, but in substance it does not differ from 
the "theory" advocated by Messrs. Maslov, Siidekum, 
Potresov, David, the founder of Russian Marxism and 
others. Cecil Rhodes was a somewhat more honest social- 

To present as precise a picture as possible of the territo- 
rial division of the world and of the changes which have 
occurred during the last decades in this respect, I shall 
utilise the data furnished by Supan in the work already 
quoted on the colonial possessions of all the powers of the 
world . Supan takes the years 1876 and 1900, I shall take 
the year 1876 — a year very aptly selected, for it is precisely 
by that time that the pre-monopolist stage of development 
of West-European capitalism can be said to have been, in 
the main, completed — and the year 1914, and instead of 
Supan's figures I shall quote the more recent statistics of 
Hiibner's Geographical and Statistical Tables. Supan gives 
figures only for colonies; I think it useful, in order to pre- 
sent a complete picture of the division of the world, to add 
brief data on non-colonial and semi-colonial countries, in 
which category I place Persia, China and Turkey: the 
first of these countries is already almost completely a colony, 
the second and third are becoming such. 

We thus get the following result: 

Ibid., S. 304. 



Colonial Possessions of the Great Powers 
(000,000 square kilometres and 000,000 inhabitants) 

















Great Britain . 









Russia. . . 









France. . . . 









Germany. . . 







United States . 







Japan .... 







Total for 

6 Great 










Colonies of other powers (Belgium, Holland, etc.) .... 9.9 45.3 

Semi-colonial countries (Persia, China, Turkey) 14.5 361.2 

Other countries 28.0 289.9 

Total for the world 133.9 1,657.0 

We clearly see from these figures how "complete" was the 
partition of the world at the turn of the twentieth century. 
After 1876 colonial possessions increased to enormous dimen- 
sions, by more than fifty per cent, from 40,000,000 to 
65,000,000 square kilometres for the six biggest powers; 
the increase amounts to 25,000,000 square kilometres, fifty 
per cent more than the area of the metropolitan countries 
(16,500,000 square kilometres). In 1876 three powers had 
no colonies, and a fourth, France, had scarcely any. By 
1914 these four powers had acquired colonies with an area of 
14,100,000 square kilometres, i.e., about half as much 
again as the area of Europe, with a population of nearly 
100,000,000. The unevenness in the rate of expansion of 
colonial possessions is very great. If, for instance, we com- 
pare France, Germany and Japan, which do not differ very 



much in area and population, we see that the first has 
acquired almost three times as much colonial territory as the 
other two combined. In regard to finance capital, France 
at the beginning of the period we are considering, was also, 
perhaps, several times richer than Germany and Japan put 
together. In addition to, and on the basis of, purely economic 
conditions, geographical and other conditions also affect 
the dimensions of colonial possessions. However strong the 
process of levelling the world, of levelling the economic 
and living conditions in different countries, may have been 
in the past decades as a result of the pressure of large-scale 
industry, exchange and finance capital, considerable differ- 
ences still remain; and among the six countries mentioned 
we see, firstly, young capitalist countries (America, Germany, 
Japan) whose progress has been extraordinarily rapid; 
secondly, countries with an old capitalist development 
(France and Great Britain), whose progress lately has been 
much slower than that of the previously mentioned coun- 
tries, and thirdly, a country most backward economically 
(Russia), where modern capitalist imperialism is enmeshed, 
so to speak, in a particularly close network of pre-capital- 
ist relations. 

Alongside the colonial possessions of the Great Powers, 
we have placed the small colonies of the small states, which 
are, so to speak, the next objects of a possible and probable 
"redivision" of colonies. These small states mostly retain 
their colonies only because the big powers are torn by con- 
flicting interests, friction, etc., which prevent them from 
coming to an agreement on the division of the spoils. As to 
the "semi-colonial" states, they provide an example of the 
transitional forms which are to be found in all spheres of 
nature and society. Finance capital is such a great, such a 
decisive, you might say, force in all economic and in all 
international relations, that it is capable of subjecting, 
and actually does subject, to itself even states enjoying the 
fullest political independence; we shall shortly see examples 
of this. Of course, finance capital finds most "convenient", 
and derives the greatest profit from, a form of subjection 
which involves the loss of the political independence of the 
subjected countries and peoples. In this respect, the semi- 
colonial countries provide a typical example of the "middle 



stage". It is natural that the struggle for these semi-depend- 
ent countries should have become particularly bitter in 
the epoch of finance capital, when the rest of the world has 
already been divided up. 

Colonial policy and imperialism existed before the 
latest stage of capitalism, and even before capitalism. Rome, 
founded on slavery, pursued a colonial policy and practised 
imperialism. But "general" disquisitions on imperialism, 
which ignore, or put into the background, the fundamental 
difference between socio-economic formations, inevitably 
turn into the most vapid banality or bragging, like the com- 
parison: "Greater Rome and Greater Britain."* Even the 
capitalist colonial policy of previous stages of capitalism is 
essentially different from the colonial policy of finance 

The principal feature of the latest stage of capitalism is 
the domination of monopolist associations of big employers. 
These monopolies are most firmly established when all the 
sources of raw materials are captured by one group, and we 
have seen with what zeal the international capitalist asso- 
ciations exert every effort to deprive their rivals of all 
opportunity of competing, to buy up, for example, iron- 
fields, oilfields, etc. Colonial possession alone gives the 
monopolies complete guarantee against all contingencies 
in the struggle against competitors, including the case of 
the adversary wanting to be protected by a law establishing 
a state monopoly. The more capitalism is developed, the 
more strongly the shortage of raw materials is felt, the 
more intense the competition and the hunt for sources of 
raw materials throughout the whole world, the more desper- 
ate the struggle for the acquisition of colonies. 

"It may be asserted," writes Schilder, "although it may 
sound paradoxical to some, that in the more or less foresee- 
able future the growth of the urban and industrial popul- 
ation is more likely to be hindered by a shortage of raw 
materials for industry than by a shortage of food." For exam- 
ple, there is a growing shortage of timber — the price of 

* C. P. Lucas, Greater Rome and Greater Britain, Oxford, 1912, 
or the Earl of Cromer's Ancient and Modern Imperialism. London, 



which is steadily rising — of leather, and of raw materials 
for the textile industry. "Associations of manufacturers are 
making efforts to create an equilibrium between agriculture 
and industry in the whole of world economy; as an example 
of this we might mention the International Federation of 
Cotton Spinners' Associations in several of the most 
important industrial countries, founded in 1904, and the 
European Federation of Flax Spinners' Associations, founded 
on the same model in 1910."* 

Of course, the bourgeois reformists, and among them 
particularly the present-day adherents of Kautsky, try to 
belittle the importance of facts of this kind by arguing 
that raw materials "could be" obtained in the open market 
without a "costly and dangerous" colonial policy; and that 
the supply of raw materials "could be" increased enormously 
by "simply" improving conditions in agriculture in general. 
But such arguments become an apology for imperialism, an 
attempt to paint it in bright colours, because they ignore 
the principal feature of the latest stage of capitalism: 
monopolies. The free market is becoming more and more a 
thing of the past; monopolist syndicates and trusts are 
restricting it with every passing day, and "simply" improv- 
ing conditions in agriculture means improving the condi- 
tions of the masses, raising wages and reducing profits. 
Where, except in the imagination of sentimental reformists, 
are there any trusts capable of concerning themselves with 
the condition of the masses instead of the conquest of colo- 

Finance capital is interested not only in the already 
discovered sources of raw materials but also in potential 
sources, because present-day technical development is 
extremely rapid, and land which is useless today may be 
improved tomorrow if new methods are devised (to this end 
a big bank can equip a special expedition of engineers, agri- 
cultural experts, etc.), and if large amounts of capital are 
invested. This also applies to prospecting for minerals, to 
new methods of processing up and utilising raw materials, 
etc., etc. Hence, the inevitable striving of finance capital to 
enlarge its spheres of influence and even its actual territory. 

Schilder, op. cit.. S. 38-42. 



In the same way that the trusts capitalise their property at 
two or three times its value, taking into account its "poten- 
tial" (and not actual) profits and the further results of monop- 
oly, so finance capital in general strives to seize the larg- 
est possible amount of land of all kinds in all places, and 
by every means, taking into account potential sources of 
raw materials and fearing to be left behind in the fierce 
struggle for the last remnants of independent territory, or 
for the repartition of those territories that have been 
already divided. 

The British capitalists are exerting every effort to develop 
cotton growing in their colony, Egypt (in 1904, out of 
2,300,000 hectares of land under cultivation, 600,000, or 
more than one-fourth were under cotton); the Russians are 
doing the same in their colony, Turkestan, because in this 
way they will be in a better position to defeat their foreign 
competitors, to monopolise the sources of raw materials 
and form a more economical and profitable textile trust 
in which all the processes of cotton production and manufac- 
turing will be "combined" and concentrated in the hands 
of one set of owners. 

The interests pursued in exporting capital also give an 
impetus to the conquest of colonies, for in the colonial mar- 
ket it is easier to employ monopoly methods (and some- 
times they are the only methods that can be employed) to 
eliminate competition, to ensure supplies, to secure the 
necessary "connections", etc. 

The non-economic superstructure which grows up on the 
basis of finance capital, its politics and its ideology, stimu- 
lates the striving for colonial conquest. "Finance capital 
does not want liberty, it wants domination," as Hilferding 
very truly says. And a French bourgeois writer, developing 
and supplementing, as it were, the ideas of Cecil Rhodes 
quoted above,* writes that social causes should be added to 
the economic causes of modern colonial policy: "owing to 
the growing complexities of life and the difficulties which 
weigh not only on the masses of the workers, but also on 
the middle classes, 'impatience, irritation and hatred are 
accumulating in all the countries of the old civilisation 

See pp. 256-57 of this volume. — Ed. 



and are becoming a menace to public order; the energy which 
is being hurled out of the definite class channel must be 
given employment abroad in order to avert an explosion at 

Since we are speaking of colonial policy in the epoch of 
capitalist imperialism, it must be observed that finance 
capital and its foreign policy, which is the struggle of the 
great powers for the economic and political division of the 
world, give rise to a number of transitional forms of state 
dependence. Not only are the two main groups of countries, 
those owning colonies, and the colonies themselves, but 
also the diverse forms of dependent countries which, polit- 
ically, are formally independent, but in fact, are enmeshed 
in the net of financial and diplomatic dependence, 
typical of this epoch. We have already referred to one form 
of dependence — the semi-colony. An example of another is 
provided by Argentina. 

"South America, and especially Argentina," writes Schulze- 
Gaevernitz in his work on British imperialism, "is so 
dependent financially on London that it ought to be de- 
scribed as almost a British commercial colony."** Basing 
himself on the reports of the Austro-Hungarian Consul at 
Buenos Aires for 1909, Schilder estimated the amount of 
British capital invested in Argentina at 8,750 million francs. 
It is not difficult to imagine what strong connections Brit- 
ish finance capital (and its faithful "friend", diplomacy) 
thereby acquires with the Argentine bourgeoisie, with the 
circles that control the whole of that country's economic 
and political life. 

A somewhat different form of financial and diplomatic 
dependence, accompanied by political independence, is 
presented by Portugal. Portugal is an independent sovereign 
state, but actually, for more than two hundred years, since 
the war of the Spanish Succession (1701-14), it has been a 
British protectorate. Great Britain has protected Portugal 

* Wahl, La France aux colonies quoted by Henri Russier, Le 
Partage de VOceanie, Paris, 1905, p. 165. 

** Schulze-Gaevernitz, Britischer Imperialismus und englischer 
Freihandel zu Beginn des 20-ten Jahrhunderts, Leipzig, 1906, S. 318 
Sartorius v. Waltershausen says the same in Das volkswirtschaftliche 
System der Kapitalanlage im Auslande, Berlin, 1907, S. 46. 



and her colonies in order to fortify her own positions in the 
fight against her rivals, Spain and France. In return Great 
Britain has received commercial privileges, preferential 
conditions for importing goods and especially capital into 
Portugal and the Portuguese colonies, the right to use the 
ports and islands of Portugal, her telegraph cables, etc., 
etc.* Relations of this kind have always existed between 
big and little states, but in the epoch of capitalist imperi- 
alism they become a general system, they form part of the 
sum total of "divide the world" relations and become links 
in the chain of operations of world finance capital. 

In order to finish with the question of the division of the 
world, I must make the following additional observa- 
tion. This question was raised quite openly and definitely 
not only in American literature after the Spanish-American 
War, and in English literature after the Anglo-Boer War, 
at the very end of the nineteenth century and the beginning 
of the twentieth, not only has German literature, which has 
"most jealously" watched "British imperialism", systemat- 
ically given its appraisal of this fact. This question has 
also been raised in French bourgeois literature as definitely 
and broadly as is thinkable from the bourgeois point of 
view. Let me quote Driault, the historian, who, in his 
book, Political and Social Problems at the End of the Nine- 
teenth Century, in the chapter "The Great Powers and the 
Division of the World", wrote the following: "During the 
past few years, all the free territory of the globe, with the 
exception of China, has been occupied by the powers of 
Europe and North America. This has already brought 
about several conflicts and shifts of spheres of influence, 
and these foreshadow more terrible upheavals in the near 
future. For it is necessary to make haste. The nations 
which have not yet made provision for themselves run 
the risk of never receiving their share and never partici- 
pating in the tremendous exploitation of the globe which 
will be one of the most essential features of the next century 
[i.e., the twentieth]. That is why all Europe and America 
have lately been afflicted with the fever of colonial expan- 
sion, of 'imperialism', that most noteworthy feature of the 

Schilder, op. cit., Vol. I, S. 160-61. 



end of the nineteenth century." And the author added: "In this 
partition of the world, in this furious hunt for the treasures 
and the big markets of the globe, the relative strength of the 
empires founded in this nineteenth century is totally out of 
proportion to the place occupied in Europe by the nations 
which founded them. The dominant powers in Europe, the 
arbiters of her destiny, are not equally preponderant in the 
whole world. And, as colonial might, the hope of control- 
ling as yet unassessed wealth, will evidently react upon the 
relative strength of the European powers, the colonial 
question — 'imperialism', if you will — which has already 
modified the political conditions of Europe itself, will 
modify them more and more."* 


We must now try to sum up, to draw together the threads 
of what has been said above on the subject of imperialism. 
Imperialism emerged as the development and direct continua- 
tion of the fundamental characteristics of capitalism in 
general. But capitalism only became capitalist imperialism 
at a definite and very high stage of its development, when 
certain of its fundamental characteristics began to change 
into their opposites, when the features of the epoch of tran- 
sition from capitalism to a higher social and economic 
system had taken shape and revealed themselves in all spheres. 
Economically, the main thing in this process is the displace- 
ment of capitalist free competition by capitalist monop- 
oly. Free competition is the basic feature of capitalism, 
and of commodity production generally; monopoly is the 
exact opposite of free competition, but we have seen the lat- 
ter being transformed into monopoly before our eyes, creat- 
ing large-scale industry and forcing out small industry, 
replacing large-scale by still larger-scale industry, and car- 
rying concentration of production and capital to the point 
where out of it has grown and is growing monopoly: cartels, 
syndicates and trusts, and merging with them, the capital 

J.-E. Driault, Problemes politiques et sociaux, Paris, 1907, p. 299. 



of a dozen or so banks, which manipulate thousands of mil- 
lions. At the same time the monopolies, which have grown 
out of free competition, do not eliminate the latter, but 
exist above it and alongside it, and thereby give rise to a 
number of very acute, intense antagonisms, frictions and 
conflicts. Monopoly is the transition from capitalism to a 
higher system. 

If it were necessary to give the briefest possible defini- 
tion of imperialism we should have to say that imperialism 
is the monopoly stage of capitalism. Such a definition would 
include what is most important, for, on the one hand, finance 
capital is the bank capital of a few very big monopolist 
banks, merged with the capital of the monopolist associa- 
tions of industrialists; and, on the other hand, the division 
of the world is the transition from a colonial policy which 
has extended without hindrance to territories unseized by 
any capitalist power, to a colonial policy of monopolist 
possession of the territory of the world, which has been 
completely divided up. 

But very brief definitions, although convenient, for they 
sum up the main points, are nevertheless inadequate, since 
we have to deduce from them some especially important 
features of the phenomenon that has to be defined. And so, 
without forgetting the conditional and relative value of 
all definitions in general, which can never embrace all the 
concatenations of a phenomenon in its full development, we 
must give a definition of imperialism that will include the 
following five of its basic features: 

(1) the concentration of production and capital has 
developed to such a high stage that it has created monopolies 
which play a decisive role in economic life; (2) the merging 
of bank capital with industrial capital, and the creation, 
on the basis of this "finance capital", of a financial oligar- 
chy; (3) the export of capital as distinguished from the 
export of commodities acquires exceptional importance; 

(4) the formation of international monopolist capitalist 
associations which share the world among themselves, and 

(5) the territorial division of the whole world among the 
biggest capitalist powers is completed. Imperialism is 
capitalism at that stage of development at which the domi- 
nance of monopolies and finance capital is established; in 



which the export of capital has acquired pronounced impor- 
tance; in which the division of the world among the inter- 
national trusts has begun, in which the division of all ter- 
ritories of the globe among the biggest capitalist powers 
has been completed. 

We shall see later that imperialism can and must be 
defined differently if we bear in mind not only the basic, 
purely economic concepts — to which the above definition 
is limited — but also the historical place of this stage of 
capitalism in relation to capitalism in general, or the rela- 
tion between imperialism and the two main trends in the 
working-class movement. The thing to be noted at this point 
is that imperialism, as interpreted above, undoubtedly rep- 
resents a special stage in the development of capitalism. To 
enable the reader to obtain the most well-grounded idea of 
imperialism, I deliberately tried to quote as extensively 
as possible bourgeois economists who have to admit the partic- 
ularly incontrovertible facts concerning the latest stage 
of capitalist economy. With the same object in view, I have 
quoted detailed statistics which enable one to see to what 
degree bank capital, etc., has grown, in what precisely the 
transformation of quantity into quality, of developed capi- 
talism into imperialism, was expressed. Needless to say, of 
course, all boundaries in nature and in society are conven- 
tional and changeable, and it would be absurd to argue, for 
example, about the particular year or decade in which impe- 
rialism "definitely" became established. 

In the matter of defining imperialism, however, we have 
to enter into controversy, primarily, with Karl Kautsky, 
the principal Marxist theoretician of the epoch of the so- 
called Second International — that is, of the twenty-five 
years between 1889 and 1914. The fundamental ideas ex- 
pressed in our definition of imperialism were very resolutely 
attacked by Kautsky in 1915, and even in November 1914, 
when he said that imperialism must not be regarded as a 
"phase" or stage of economy, but as a policy, a definite policy 
"preferred" by finance capital; that imperialism must not be 
"identified" with "present-day capitalism"; that if imperial- 
ism is to be understood to mean "all the phenomena of 
present-day capitalism" — cartels, protection, the domina- 
tion of the financiers, and colonial policy — then the 



question as to whether imperialism is necessary to capitalism 
becomes reduced to the "flattest tautology", because, in that 
case, "imperialism is naturally a vital necessity for capital- 
ism", and so on. The best way to present Kautsky's idea is to 
quote his own definition of imperialism, which is diametri- 
cally opposed to the substance of the ideas which I have 
set forth (for the objections coming from the camp of the 
German Marxists, who have been advocating similar ideas for 
many years already, have been long known to Kautsky as 
the objections of a definite trend in Marxism). 
Kautsky's definition is as follows: 

"Imperialism is a product of highly developed industrial 
capitalism. It consists in the striving of every industrial 
capitalist nation to bring under its control or to annex all 
large areas of agrarian [Kautsky's italics] territory, 
irrespective of what nations inhabit it."* 

This definition is of no use at all because it one-sidedly, 

1. e., arbitrarily, singles out only the national question 
(although the latter is extremely important in itself as well 
as in its relation to imperialism), it arbitrarily and inaccu- 
rately connects this question only with industrial capital 
in the countries which annex other nations, and in an 
equally arbitrary and inaccurate manner pushes into the 
forefront the annexation of agrarian regions. 

Imperialism is a striving for annexations — this is what 
the political part of Kautsky's definition amounts to. It 
is correct, but very incomplete, for politically, imperial- 
ism is, in general, a striving towards violence and reaction. 
For the moment, however, we are interested in the economic 
aspect of the question, which Kautsky himself introduced 
into his definition. The inaccuracies in Kautsky's defini- 
tion are glaring. The characteristic feature of imperialism 
is not industrial but finance capital. It is not an accident 
that in France it was precisely the extraordinarily rapid 
development of finance capital, and the weakening of indus- 
trial capital, that from the eighties onwards, gave rise to 
the extreme intensification of annexationist (colonial) policy. 
The characteristic feature of imperialism is precisely 

*Die Neue Zeit, 1914, 2 (B. 32), S. 909, Sept. 11, 1914; cf. 1915, 

2, S. 107 et seq. 



that it strives to annex not only agrarian territories, but 
even most highly industrialised regions (German appetite 
for Belgium; French appetite for Lorraine), because (1) 
the fact that the world is already partitioned obliges those 
contemplating a redivision to reach out for every kind of terri- 
tory, and (2) an essential feature of imperialism is the 
rivalry between several great powers in the striving for 
hegemony, i.e., for the conquest of territory, not so much 
directly for themselves as to weaken the adversary and under- 
mine his hegemony. (Belgium is particularly important for 
Germany as a base for operations against Britain; Britain 
needs Baghdad as a base for operations against Germany, 

Kautsky refers especially — and repeatedly — to English 
writers who, he alleges, have given a purely political 
meaning to the word "imperialism" in the sense that he, 
Kautsky, understands it. We take up the work by the English 
writer Hobson, Imperialism, which appeared in 1902, and 
there we read: 

"The new imperialism differs from the older, first, in 
substituting for the ambition of a single growing empire 
the theory and the practice of competing empires, each 
motivated by similar lusts of political aggrandisement and 
commercial gain; secondly, in the dominance of financial or 
investing over mercantile interests."* 

We see that Kautsky is absolutely wrong in referring 
to English writers generally (unless he meant the vulgar 
English imperialists, or the avowed apologists for imperial- 
ism). We see that Kautsky, while claiming that he contin- 
ues to advocate Marxism, as a matter of fact takes a step 
backward compared with the social-liberal Hobson, who 
more correctly takes into account two "historically concrete" 
(Kautsky's definition is a mockery of historical concrete- 
ness!) features of modern imperialism: (1) the competition 
between several imperialisms, and (2) the predominance of 
the financier over the merchant. If it is chiefly a question 
of the annexation of agrarian countries by industrial coun- 
tries, then the role of the merchant is put in the forefront. 

* Hobson, Imperialism, London, 1902, p. 324. 



Kautsky's definition is not only wrong and un-Marxist. 
It serves as a basis for a whole system of views which sig- 
nify a rupture with Marxist theory and Marxist practice 
all along the line. I shall refer to this later. The argument 
about words which Kautsky raises as to whether the latest 
stage of capitalism should be called imperialism or the 
stage of finance capital is not worth serious attention. Call 
it what you will, it makes no difference. The essence of the 
matter is that Kautsky detaches the politics of imperi- 
alism from its economics, speaks of annexations as being a 
policy "preferred" by finance capital, and opposes to it 
another bourgeois policy which, he alleges, is possible on 
this very same basis of finance capital. It follows, then, 
that monopolies in the economy are compatible with non- 
monopolistic, non-violent, non-annexationist methods in 
politics. It follows then, that the territorial division of 
the world, which was completed during this very epoch of 
finance capital, and which constitutes the basis of the pres- 
ent peculiar forms of rivalry between the biggest capital- 
ist states, is compatible with a non-imperialist policy. The 
result is a slurring-over and a blunting of the most profound 
contradictions of the latest stage of capitalism, instead of an 
exposure of their depth; the result is bourgeois reformism 
instead of Marxism. 

Kautsky enters into controversy with the German apolo- 
gist of imperialism and annexations, Cunow, who clumsily 
and cynically argues that imperialism is present-day capi- 
talism; the development of capitalism is inevitable and 
progressive; therefore imperialism is progressive; therefore, 
we should grovel before it and glorify it! This is something 
like the caricature of the Russian Marxists which the Narod- 
niks drew in 1894-95. They argued: if the Marxists believe 
that capitalism is inevitable in Russia, that it is progressive, 
then they ought to open a tavern and begin to implant 
capitalism! Kautsky's reply to Cunow is as follows: imperial- 
ism is not present-day capitalism; it is only one of the forms 
of the policy of present-day capitalism. This policy we can 
and should fight, fight imperialism, annexations, etc. 

The reply seems quite plausible, but in effect it is a more 
subtle and more disguised (and therefore more dangerous) 
advocacy of conciliation with imperialism, because a 



"fight" against the policy of the trusts and banks that does 
not affect the economic basis of the trusts and banks is 
mere bourgeois reformism and pacifism, the benevolent 
and innocent expression of pious wishes. Evasion of existing 
contradictions, forgetting the most important of them, 
instead of revealing their full depth — such is Kautsky's 
theory, which has nothing in common with Marxism. 
Naturally, such a "theory" can only serve the purpose of 
advocating unity with the Cunows! 

"From the purely economic point of view," writes Kaut- 
sky, "it is not impossible that capitalism will yet go through 
a new phase, that of the extension of the policy of the car- 
tels to foreign policy, the phase of ultra-imperialism,"* 

1. e., of a superimperialism, of a union of the imperialisms 
of the whole world and not struggles among them, a phase 
when wars shall cease under capitalism, a phase of "the 
joint exploitation of the world by internationally united 
finance capital".** 

We shall have to deal with this "theory of ultra-imperi- 
alism" later on in order to show in detail how decisively 
and completely it breaks with Marxism. At present, in keep- 
ing with the general plan of the present work, we must exam- 
ine the exact economic data on this question. "From the 
purely economic point of view", is "ultra-imperialism" pos- 
sible, or is it ultra-nonsense? 

If the purely economic point of view is meant to be a 
"pure" abstraction, then all that can be said reduces itself to 
the following proposition: development is proceeding towards 
monopolies, hence, towards a single world monopoly, 
towards a single world trust. This is indisputable, but it is 
also as completely meaningless as is the statement that 
"development is proceeding" towards the manufacture of 
foodstuffs in laboratories. In this sense the "theory" of ultra- 
imperialism is no less absurd than a "theory of ultra-agricul- 
ture" would be. 

If, however, we are discussing the "purely economic" con- 
ditions of the epoch of finance capital as a historically con- 
crete epoch which began at the turn of the twentieth 

*Die Neue Zeit, 1914, 2 (B. 32), S. 921, Sept. 11, 1914. Cf. 1915. 

2, S. 107 et seq. 

** Die Neue Zeit, 1915, 1, S. 144, April 30, 1915. 



century, then the best reply that one can make to the lifeless 
abstractions of "ultra-imperialism" (which serve exclusive- 
ly a most reactionary aim: that of diverting attention 
from the depth of existing antagonisms) is to contrast them 
with the concrete economic realities of the present-day world 
economy. Kautsky's utterly meaningless talk about ultra- 
imperialism encourages, among other things, that profoundly 
mistaken idea which only brings grist to the mill of the 
apologists of imperialism, i.e., that the rule of finance 
capital lessens the unevenness and contradictions inherent 
in the world economy, whereas in reality it increases them. 

R. Calwer, in his little book, An Introduction to the World 
Economy,* made an attempt to summarise the main, purely 
economic, data that enable one to obtain a concrete picture 
of the internal relations of the world economy at the turn of 
the twentieth century. He divides the world into five "main 
economic areas", as follows: (1) Central Europe (the whole 
of Europe with the exception of Russia and Great Britain); 
(2) Great Britain; (3) Russia; (4) Eastern Asia; (5) America; 
he includes the colonies in the "areas" of the states to which 
they belong and "leaves aside" a few countries not distrib- 
uted according to areas, such as Persia, Afghanistan, and 
Arabia in Asia, Morocco and Abyssinia in Africa, etc. 

Here is a brief summary of the economic data he quotes 
on these regions: 

Transport Trade 


o O w 

a a a 

• r-t O CD 
H U 

Ph o cs 

1) Central Europe 

2) Britain 

3) Russia 

4) Eastern Asia 

5) America 

o ^ 
O S 

<! W CO 



as o 

27.6 388 
(23.6)** (146) 
28.9 398 
(28.6)** (355) 
22 131 
12 389 
30 148 



0 o 


(000 km 

(000,000 1 


















(000,000 «g 
tons) sh 

"3 g 

o ? 

251 15 




-g CO 



3 7 
0.02 2 
14 19 

* R. Calwer, Einfiihrung in die Weltwirtschaft, Berlin, 1906. 
**The figures in parentheses show the area and population of 
the colonies. 



We see three areas of highly developed capitalism (high 
development of means of transport, of trade and of indus- 
try): the Central European, the British and the American 
areas. Among these are three states which dominate the 
world: Germany, Great Britain, and the United States. Impe- 
rialist rivalry and the struggle between these countries have 
become extremely keen because Germany has only an 
insignificant area and few colonies; the creation of "Central 
Europe" is still a matter for the future, it is being born in 
the midst of a desperate struggle. For the moment the dis- 
tinctive feature of the whole of Europe is political disunity. 
In the British and American areas, on the other hand, 
political concentration is very highly developed, but there 
is a vast disparity between the immense colonies of the one 
and the insignificant colonies of the other. In the colonies, 
however, capitalism is only beginning to develop. The 
struggle for South America is becoming more and more 

There are two areas where capitalism is little developed: 
Russia and Eastern Asia. In the former, the population is 
extremely sparse, in the latter it is extremely dense; in 
the former political concentration is high, in the latter it 
does not exist. The partitioning of China is only just 
beginning, and the struggle for it between Japan, the U.S., 
etc., is continually gaining in intensity. 

Compare this reality — the vast diversity of economic 
and political conditions, the extreme disparity in the rate 
of development of the various countries, etc., and the vio- 
lent struggles among the imperialist states — with Kautsky's 
silly little fable about "peaceful" ultra-imperialism. Is 
this not the reactionary attempt of a frightened philistine 
to hide from stern reality? Are not the international cartels 
which Kautsky imagines are the embryos of "ultra-imperi- 
alism" (in the same way as one "can" describe the manufac- 
ture of tablets in a laboratory as ultra-agriculture in 
embryo) an example of the division and the redivision of the 
world, the transition from peaceful division to non- 
peaceful division and vice versa? Is not American and other 
finance capital, which divided the whole world peacefully 
with Germany's participation in, for example, the inter- 
national rail syndicate, or in the international mercantile 



shipping trust, now engaged in redividing the world on the 
basis of a new relation of forces that is being changed by 
methods anything but peaceful? 

Finance capital and the trusts do not diminish but in- 
crease the differences in the rate of growth of the various 
parts of the world economy. Once the relation of forces is 
changed, what other solution of the contradictions can be 
found under capitalism than that of forced Railway statis- 
tics* provide remarkably exact data on the different rates 
of growth of capitalism and finance capital in world econ- 
omy. In the last decades of imperialist development, the 
total length of railways has changed as follows: 

(000 kilometres) 






+ 122 




+ 143 

All colonies .... 

82 ^| 

| + 128 ^ 

Independent and semi- 

I 347 

independent states of 

Asia and America . 


1 137 J 

' + 94 J 

+ 222 

Total 617 1,104 

Thus, the development of railways has been most rapid 
in the colonies and in the independent (and semi-independ- 
ent) states of Asia and America. Here, as we know, the 
finance capital of the four or five biggest capitalist states 
holds undisputed sway. Two hundred thousand kilometres 
of new railways in the colonies and in the other countries 
of Asia and America represent a capital of more than 40,000 
million marks newly invested on particularly advantageous 
terms, with special guarantees of a good return and with 
profitable orders for steel works, etc., etc. 

Capitalism is growing with the greatest rapidity in the 
colonies and in overseas countries. Among the latter, new 
imperialist powers are emerging (e.g., Japan). The struggle 

* Statistisches Jahrbuch fur das deutsche Reich, 1915; Archiv fiir 
Eisenbahnwesen, 1892. Minor details for the distribution of railways 
among the colonies of the various countries in 1890 had to be esti- 
mated approximately. 



among the world imperialisms is becoming more acute. The 
tribute levied by finance capital on the most profitable 
colonial and overseas enterprises is increasing. In the 
division of this "booty", an exceptionally large part goes to 
countries which do not always stand at the top of the list 
in the rapidity of the development of their productive 
forces. In the case of the biggest countries, together with 
their colonies, the total length of railways was as follows: 

(000 kilometres) 
1890 1913 

U.S 268 413 +145 

British Empire 107 208 +101 

Russia 32 78 + 46 

Germany 43 68 + 25 

France 41 63 +22 

Total for 5 powers 491 830 +339 

Thus, about 80 per cent of the total existing railways 
are concentrated in the hands of the five biggest powers. 
But the concentration of the ownership of these railways, the 
concentration of finance capital, is immeasurably greater 
since the French and British millionaires, for example, 
own an enormous amount of shares and bonds in American, 
Russian and other railways. 

Thanks to her colonies, Great Britain has increased 
the length of "her" railways by 100,000 kilometres, four 
times as much as Germany. And yet, it is well known that 
the development of productive forces in Germany, and 
especially the development of the coal and iron industries, 
has been incomparably more rapid during this period than 
in Britain — not to speak of France and Russia. In 1892, 
Germany produced 4,900,000 tons of pig-iron and Great 
Britain produced 6,800,000 tons; in 1912, Germany pro- 
duced 17,600,000 tons and Great Britain, 9,000,000 tons. 
Germany, therefore, had an overwhelming superiority over 
Britain in this respect.* The question is: what means other 

* Cf. also Edgar Crammond, "The Economic Relations of the 
British and German Empires" in The Journal of the Royal Statistical 
Society, July 1914, p. 777 et seq. 



than war could there be under capitalism to overcome the 
disparity between the development of productive forces 
and the accumulation of capital on the one side, and the 
division of colonies and spheres of influence for finance 
capital on the other? 


We now have to examine yet another significant aspect 
of imperialism to which most of the discussions on the 
subject usually attach insufficient importance. One of the 
shortcomings of the Marxist Hilferding is that on this 
point he has taken a step backward compared with the non- 
Marxist Hobson. I refer to parasitism, which is charac- 
teristic of imperialism. 

As we have seen, the deepest economic foundation of 
imperialism is monopoly. This is capitalist monopoly, i.e., 
monopoly which has grown out of capitalism and which 
exists in the general environment of capitalism, commodity 
production and competition, in permanent and insoluble 
contradiction to this general environment. Nevertheless, 
like all monopoly, it inevitably engenders a tendency to 
stagnation and decay. Since monopoly prices are established, 
even temporarily, the motive cause of technical and, 
consequently, of all other progress disappears to a certain 
extent and, further, the economic possibility arises of 
deliberately retarding technical progress. For instance, in 
America, a certain Owens invented a machine which 
revolutionised the manufacture of bottles. The German bottle- 
manufacturing cartel purchased Owens's patent, but pigeon- 
holed it, refrained from utilising it. Certainly, monopoly 
under capitalism can never completely, and for a very long 
period of time, eliminate competition in the world market 
(and this, by the by, is one of the reasons why the theory 
of ultra-imperialism is so absurd). Certainly, the possibility 
of reducing the cost of production and increasing profits by 
introducing technical improvements operates in the direc- 
tion of change. But the tendency to stagnation and decay, 
which is characteristic of monopoly, continues to operate, 
and in some branches of industry, in some countries, for 
certain periods of time, it gains the upper hand. 



The monopoly ownership of very extensive, rich or well- 
situated colonies, operates in the same direction. 

Further, imperialism is an immense accumulation of 
money capital in a few countries, amounting, as we have 
seen, to 100,000-150,000 million francs in securities. Hence 
the extraordinary growth of a class, or rather, of a stratum 
of rentiers, i.e., people who live by "clipping coupons", 
who take no part in any enterprise whatever, whose profes- 
sion is idleness. The export of capital, one of the most es- 
sential economic bases of imperialism, still more completely 
isolates the rentiers from production and sets the seal of 
parasitism on the whole country that lives by exploiting 
the labour of several overseas countries and colonies. 

"In 1893," writes Hobson, "the British capital invested 
abroad represented about 15 per cent of the total wealth 
of the United Kingdom."* Let me remind the reader that 
by 1915 this capital had increased about two and a half 
times. "Aggressive imperialism," says Hobson further on, 
"which costs the tax-payer so dear, which is of so little 
value to the manufacturer and trader ... is a source of great 

gain to the investor The annual income Great Britain 

derives from commissions in her whole foreign and colonial 
trade, import and export, is estimated by Sir. R. Giffen 
at £18,000,000 [nearly 170 million rubles] for 1899, 
taken at 2V 2 per cent, upon a turnover of £800,000,000." 
Great as this sum is, it cannot explain the aggressive 
imperialism of Great Britain, which is explained by the 
income of £90 million to £100 million from "invested" 
capital, the income of the rentiers. 

The income of the rentiers is five times greater than the 
income obtained from the foreign trade of the biggest "trad- 
ing" country in the world! This is the essence of imperial- 
ism and imperialist parasitism. 

For that reason the term "rentier state" (Rentnerstaat), 
or usurer state, is coming into common use in the economic 
literature that deals with imperialism. The world has 
become divided into a handful of usurer states and a vast 
majority of debtor states. "At the top of the list of foreign 
investments," says Schulze-Gaevernitz, "are those placed 

* Hobson, op. cit. , pp. 59, 60. 



in politically dependent or allied countries: Great Britain 
grants loans to Egypt, Japan, China and South America. Her 
navy plays here the part of bailiff in case of necessity. 
Great Britain's political power protects her from the 
indignation of her debtors."* Sartorius von Waltershausen 
in his book, The National Economic System of Capital 
Investments Abroad, cites Holland as the model "rentier state" 
and points out that Great Britain and France are now 
becoming such.** Schilder is of the opinion that five indus- 
trial states have become "definitely pronounced creditor 
countries": Great Britain, France, Germany, Belgium and, 
Switzerland. He does not include Holland in this list simply 
because she is "industrially little developed".*** The United 
States is a creditor only of the American countries. 

"Great Britain," says Schulze-Gaevernitz, "is gradually 
becoming transformed from an industrial into a creditor 
state. Notwithstanding the absolute increase in industrial 
output and the export of manufactured goods, there is an 
increase in the relative importance of income from interest 
and dividends, issues of securities, commissions and spe- 
culation in the whole of the national economy. In my opinion 
it is precisely this that forms the economic basis of imperial- 
ist ascendancy. The creditor is more firmly attached to the 
debtor than the seller is to the buyer."**** In regard to Ger- 
many, A. Lansburgh, the publisher of the Berlin Die Bank, 
in 1911, in an article entitled "Germany — a Rentier State", 
wrote the following: "People in Germany are ready to sneer 
at the yearning to become rentiers that is observed in France. 
But they forget that as far as the bourgeoisie is concerned, 
the situation in Germany is becoming more and more like 
that in France."***** 

The rentier state is a state of parasitic, decaying capi- 
talism, and this circumstance cannot fail to influence all 
the socio-political conditions of the countries concerned, 
in general, and the two fundamental trends in the working- 

* Schulze-Gaevernitz, Britischer Imperialismus , S. 320 et seq. 
** Sartorius von Waltershausen, Das volkswirtschaftliche Sys- 
tem, etc. Berlin, 1907, Buch IV. 
*** Schilder, op. cit., S. 393. 
**** Schulze-Gaevernitz, op. cit., S. 122. 
*****Die Bank, 1911, 1, S. 10-11. 



class movement, in particular. To demonstrate this in the 
clearest possible manner let me quote Hobson, who is a 
most reliable witness, since he cannot be suspected of 
leaning towards Marxist orthodoxy; on the other hand, he 
is an Englishman who is very well acquainted with the 
situation in the country which is richest in colonies, in finance 
capital, and in imperialist experience. 

With the Anglo-Boer War fresh in his mind, Hobson 
describes the connection between imperialism and the interests 
of the "financiers", their growing profits from contracts, 
supplies, etc., and writes: "While the directors of this 
definitely parasitic policy are capitalists, the same motives 
appeal to special classes of the workers. In many towns 
most important trades are dependent upon government 
employment or contracts; the imperialism of the metal 
and shipbuilding centres is attributable in no small degree 
to this fact." Two sets of circumstances, in this writer's 
opinion, have weakened the old empires: (1) "economic 
parasitism", and (2) the formation of armies recruited from 
subject peoples. "There is first the habit of economic para- 
sitism, by which the ruling state has used its provinces, 
colonies, and dependencies in order to enrich its ruling 
class and to bribe its lower classes into acquiescence." And 
I shall add that the economic possibility of such brib- 
ery, whatever its form may be, requires high monopolist 

As for the second circumstance, Hobson writes: "One 
of the strangest symptoms of the blindness of imperialism 
is the reckless indifference with which Great Britain, France 
and other imperial nations are embarking on this perilous 
dependence. Great Britain has gone farthest. Most of the 
fighting by which we have won our Indian Empire has been 
done by natives; in India, as more recently in Egypt, great 
standing armies are placed under British commanders; 
almost all the fighting associated with our African domin- 
ions, except in the southern part, has been done for us by 

Hobson gives the following economic appraisal of the 
prospect of the partitioning of China: "The greater part 
of Western Europe might then assume the appearance and 
character already exhibited by tracts of country in the 



South of England, in the Riviera, and in the tourist-ridden 
or residential parts of Italy and Switzerland, little clusters 
of wealthy aristocrats drawing dividends and pensions from 
the Far East, with a somewhat larger group of professional 
retainers and tradesmen and a larger body of personal 
servants and workers in the transport trade and in the final 
stages of production of the more perishable goods; all the 
main arterial industries would have disappeared, the staple 
foods and manufactures flowing in as tribute from Asia 

and Africa We have foreshadowed the possibility of even 

a larger alliance of Western states, a European federation 
of great powers which, so far from forwarding the cause of 
world civilisation, might introduce the gigantic peril of a 
Western parasitism, a group of advanced industrial 
nations, whose upper classes drew vast tribute from Asia and 
Africa, with which they supported great tame masses of 
retainers, no longer engaged in the staple industries of 
agriculture and manufacture, but kept in the performance 
of personal or minor industrial services under the control 
of a new financial aristocracy. Let those who would scout 
such a theory [it would be better to say: prospect] as 
undeserving of consideration examine the economic and social 
condition of districts in Southern England today which 
are already reduced to this condition, and reflect upon the 
vast extension of such a system which might be rendered 
feasible by the subjection of China to the economic control 
of similar groups of financiers, investors, and political and 
business officials, draining the greatest potential reservoir 
of profit the world has ever known, in order to consume it 
in Europe. The situation is far too complex, the play of 
world forces far too incalculable, to render this or any other 
single interpretation of the future very probable; but the 
influences which govern the imperialism of Western Europe 
today are moving in this direction, and, unless counter- 
acted or diverted, make towards some such consummation."* 
The author is quite right: if the forces of imperialism 
had not been counteracted they would have led precisely 
to what he has described. The significance of a "United 
States of Europe" in the present imperialist situation is 

Hobson, op. cit., pp. 103, 205, 144, 335, 386. 



correctly appraised. He should have added, however, that, 
also within the working-class movement, the opportunists, 
who are for the moment victorious in most countries, are 
"working" systematically and undeviatingly in this very 
direction. Imperialism, which means the partitioning of 
the world, and the exploitation of other countries besides 
China, which means high monopoly profits for a handful 
of very rich countries, makes it economically possible to 
bribe the upper strata of the proletariat, and thereby fos- 
ters, gives shape to, and strengthens opportunism. We 
must not, however, lose sight of the forces which counteract 
imperialism in general, and opportunism in particular, and 
which, naturally, the social-liberal Hobson is unable to 

The German opportunist, Gerhard Hildebrand, who was 
once expelled from the Party for defending imperialism, 
and who could today be a leader of the so-called "Social- 
Democratic" Party of Germany, supplements Hobson well 
by his advocacy of a "United States of Western Europe" 
(without Russia) for the purpose of "joint" action ... against 
the African Negroes, against the "great Islamic movement", 
for the maintenance of a "powerful army and navy", against 
a "Sino-Japanese coalition",* etc. 

The description of "British imperialism" in Schulze- 
Gaevernitz's book reveals the same parasitical traits. The 
national income of Great Britain approximately doubled 
from 1865 to 1898, while the income "from abroad" increased 
ninefold in the same period. While the "merit" of imperi- 
alism is that it "trains the Negro to habits of industry" 
(you cannot manage without coercion...), the "danger" of 
imperialism lies in that "Europe will shift the burden of 
physical toil — first agricultural and mining, then the rough- 
er work in industry — on to the coloured races, and itself 
be content with the role of rentier, and in this way, perhaps, 
pave the way for the economic, and later, the political eman- 
cipation of the coloured races". 

An increasing proportion of land in England is being tak- 
en out of cultivation and used for sport, for the diversion 

* Gerhard Hildebrand, Die Erschutterung der Industrieherrschaft 
und des Industriesozialismus , 1910, S. 229 et seq. 



of the rich. As far as Scotland — the most aristocratic place 
for hunting and other sports — is concerned, it is said that 
"it lives on its past and on Mr. Carnegie" (the American 
multimillionaire). On horse racing and fox hunting alone 
England annually spends £14,000,000 (nearly 130 million 
rubles). The number of rentiers in England is about one 
million. The percentage of the productively employed 
population to the total population is declining: 

And in speaking of the British working class the bour- 
geois student of "British imperialism at the beginning of 
the twentieth century" is obliged to distinguish systemati- 
cally between the "upper stratum" of the workers and the 
"lower stratum of the proletariat proper'. The upper stratum 
furnishes the bulk of the membership of co-operatives, 
of trade unions, of sporting clubs and of numerous religious 
sects. To this level is adapted the electoral system, which 
in Great Britain is still "sufficiently restricted to exclude 
the lower stratum of the proletariat proper" \ In order to 
present the condition of the British working class in a rosy 
light, only this upper stratum — which constitutes a minority 
of the proletariat — is usually spoken of. For instance, 
"the problem of unemployment is mainly a London prob- 
lem and that of the lower proletarian stratum, to which 
the politicians attach little importance...."* He should have 
said: to which the bourgeois politicians and the "socialist" 
opportunists attach little importance. 

One of the special features of imperialism connected 
with the facts I am describing, is the decline in emigra- 
tion from imperialist countries and the increase in immi- 
gration into these countries from the more backward coun- 
tries where lower wages are paid. As Hobson observes, 
emigration from Great Britain has been declining since 
1884. In that year the number of emigrants was 242,000, 

Schulze-Gaevernitz, Britischer Imperialismus, S. 301. 

England and 

Workers in 
basic indus- 






while in 1900, the number was 169,000. Emigration from 
Germany reached the highest point between 1881 and 1890, 
with a total of 1,453,000 emigrants. In the course of the 
following two decades, it fell to 544,000 and to 341,000. 
On the other hand, there was an increase in the number of 
workers entering Germany from Austria, Italy, Russia 
and other countries. According to the 1907 census, there 
were 1,342,294 foreigners in Germany, of whom 440,800 
were industrial workers and 257,329 agricultural workers.* 
In France, the workers employed in the mining industry 
are, "in great part", foreigners: Poles, Italians and Span- 
iards.** In the United States, immigrants from Eastern 
and Southern Europe are engaged in the most poorly paid 
jobs, while American workers provide the highest percent- 
age of overseers or of the better-paid workers.*** Imperial- 
ism has the tendency to create privileged sections also 
among the workers, and to detach them from the broad 
masses of the proletariat. 

It must be observed that in Great Britain the tendency 
of imperialism to split the workers, to strengthen oppor- 
tunism among them and to cause temporary decay in the 
working-class movement, revealed itself much earlier than 
the end of the nineteenth and the beginning of the twen- 
tieth centuries; for two important distinguishing features 
of imperialism were already observed in Great Britain in 
the middle of the nineteenth century — vast colonial posses- 
sions and a monopolist position in the world market. Marx 
and Engels traced this connection between opportunism 
in the working-class movement and the imperialist features 
of British capitalism systematically, during the course 
of several decades. For example, on October 7, 1858, 
Engels wrote to Marx: "The English proletariat is actually 
becoming more and more bourgeois, so that this most 
bourgeois of all nations is apparently aiming ultimately at 
the possession of a bourgeois aristocracy and a bourgeois 
proletariat alongside the bourgeoisie. For a nation which 
exploits the whole world this is of course to a certain 
extent justifiable." 91 Almost a quarter of a century later, in 

* Statistik des Deutschen Reichs, Bd. 211. 
** Henger, Die Kapitalsanlage der Franzosen, Stuttgart, 1913. 
*** Hourwich, Immigration and Labour, New York, 1913. 



a letter dated August 11, 1881, Engels speaks of the "worst 
English trade unions which allow themselves to be led by 
men sold to, or at least paid by, the middle class". In a 
letter to Kautsky, dated September 12, 1882, Engels wrote: 
"You ask me what the English workers think about colonial 
policy. Well, exactly the same as they think about politics 
in general. There is no workers' party here, there are only 
Conservatives and Liberal-Radicals, and the workers gaily 
share the feast of England's monopoly of the world market 
and the colonies."* (Engels expressed similar ideas in the 
press in his preface to the second edition of The Condition 
of the Working Class in England, which appeared in 1892.) 

This clearly shows the causes and effects. The causes are: 
(1) exploitation of the whole world by this country; (2) 
its monopolist position in the world market; (3) its colonial 
monopoly. The effects are: (I) a section of the British 
proletariat becomes bourgeois; (2) a section of the prole- 
tariat allows itself to be led by men bought by, or at least 
paid by, the bourgeoisie. The imperialism of the beginning 
of the twentieth century completed the division of the 
world among a handful of states, each of which today 
exploits (in the sense of drawing superprofits from) a part 
of the "whole world" only a little smaller than that which 
England exploited in 1858; each of them occupies a monop- 
olist position in the world market thanks to trusts, cartels, 
finance capital and creditor and debtor relations; each of 
them enjoys to some degree a colonial monopoly (we have 
seen that out of the total of 75,000,000 sq. km., which 
comprise the whole colonial world, 65,000,000 sq. km., 
or 86 per cent, belong to six powers; 61 ,000,000 sq. km., 
or 81 per cent, belong to three powers). 

The distinctive feature of the present situation is the 
prevalence of such economic and political conditions that 
are bound to increase the irreconcilability between oppor- 
tunism and the general and vital interests of the working- 
class movement: imperialism has grown from an embryo 
into the predominant system; capitalist monopolies occupy 

* Briefwechsel von Marx und Engels, Bd. II, S. 290, IV, 433.— Karl 
Kautsky, Sozialismus und Kolonialpolitik, Berlin, 1907, S. 79; 
this pamphlet was written by Kautsky in those infinitely distant 
days when he was still a Marxist. 



first place in economics and politics; the division of the 
world has been completed; on the other hand, instead of 
the undivided monopoly of Great Britain, we see a few 
imperialist powers contending for the right to share in this 
monopoly, and this struggle is characteristic of the whole 
period of the early twentieth century. Opportunism 
cannot now be completely triumphant in the working- 
class movement of one country for decades as it was in 
Britain in the second half of the nineteenth century; but in 
a number of countries it has grown ripe, overripe, and rot- 
ten, and has become completely merged with bourgeois 
policy in the form of "social-chauvinism".* 


By the critique of imperialism, in the broad sense of 
the term, we mean the attitude of the different classes of 
society towards imperialist policy in connection with their 
general ideology. 

The enormous dimensions of finance capital concentrated 
in a few hands and creating an extraordinarily dense and 
widespread network of relationships and connections which 
subordinates not only the small and medium, but also 
the very small capitalists and small masters, on the one 
hand, and the increasingly intense struggle waged against 
other national state groups of financiers for the division 
of the world and domination over other countries, on the 
other hand, cause the propertied classes to go over entirely 
to the side of imperialism. "General" enthusiasm over the 
prospects of imperialism, furious defence of it and paint- 
ing it in the brightest colours — such are the signs of the 
times. Imperialist ideology also penetrates the working 
class. No Chinese Wall separates it from the other classes. 
The leaders of the present-day, so-called, "Social-Democrat- 
ic" Party of Germany are justly called "social-imperialists", 
that is, socialists in words and imperialists in deeds; but 

* Russian social-chauvinism in its overt form, represented by the 
Potresovs, Chkhenkelis, Maslovs, etc., and in its covert form (Chkheid- 
ze, Skobelev, Axelrod, Martov, etc.), also emerged from the Russian 
variety of opportunism, namely, liquidationism. 



as early as 1902, Hobson noted the existence in Britain 
of "Fabian imperialists" who belonged to the opportunist 
Fabian Society. 

Bourgeois scholars and publicists usually come out in 
defence of imperialism in a somewhat veiled form; they 
obscure its complete domination and its deep-going roots, 
strive to push specific and secondary details into the fore- 
front and do their very best to distract attention from 
essentials by means of absolutely ridiculous schemes for 
"reform", such as police supervision of the trusts or banks, 
etc. Cynical and frank imperialists who are bold enough 
to admit the absurdity of the idea of reforming the funda- 
mental characteristics of imperialism are a rarer phenome- 

Here is an example. The German imperialists at- 
tempt, in the magazine Archives of World Economy, to 
follow the national emancipation movements in the colo- 
nies, particularly, of course, in colonies other than those 
belonging to Germany. They note the unrest and the pro- 
test movements in India, the movement in Natal (South 
Africa), in the Dutch East Indies, etc. One of them, comment- 
ing on an English report of a conference held on June 28-30, 
1910, of representatives of various subject nations and 
races, of peoples of Asia, Africa and Europe who are under 
foreign rule, writes as follows in appraising the speeches 
delivered at this conference: "We are told that we must 
fight imperialism; that the ruling states should recognise 
the right of subject peoples to independence; that an 
international tribunal should supervise the fulfilment of 
treaties concluded between the great powers and weak 
peoples. Further than the expression of these pious wishes 
they do not go. We see no trace of understanding of the fact 
that imperialism is inseparably bound up with capitalism 
in its present form and that, therefore [!!], an open struggle 
against imperialism would be hopeless, unless, perhaps, 
the fight were to be confined to protest against certain of its 
especially abhorrent excesses."* Since the reform of the basis 
of imperialism is a deception, a "pious wish", since the 
bourgeois representatives of the oppressed nations go no 

Weltwirtschaftliches Archiv, Bd. II, S. 193. 



"further" forward, the bourgeois representative of an op- 
pressing nation goes "further" backward, to servility towards 
imperialism under cover of the claim to be "scientific". 
That is also "logic"! 

The questions as to whether it is possible to reform the 
basis of imperialism, whether to go forward to the further 
intensification and deepening of the antagonisms which it 
engenders, or backward, towards allaying these antago- 
nisms, are fundamental questions in the critique of imperial- 
ism. Since the specific political features of imperialism are 
reaction everywhere and increased national oppression due 
to the oppression of the financial oligarchy and the elimi- 
nation of free competition, a petty-bourgeois-democratic 
opposition to imperialism arose at the beginning of the 
twentieth century in nearly all imperialist countries. 
Kautsky not only did not trouble to oppose, was not only 
unable to oppose this petty-bourgeois reformist opposition, 
which is really reactionary in its economic basis, but 
became merged with it in practice, and this is precisely where 
Kautsky and the broad international Kautskian trend 
deserted Marxism. 

In the United States, the imperialist war waged against 
Spain in 1898 stirred up the opposition of the "anti-imperial- 
ists", the last of the Mohicans of bourgeois democracy, 
who declared this war to be "criminal", regarded the anne- 
xation of foreign territories as a violation of the Consti- 
tution, declared that the treatment of Aguinaldo, leader 
of the Filipinos (the Americans promised him the independ- 
ence of his country, but later landed troops and annexed 
it), was "Jingo treachery", and quoted the words of 
Lincoln: "When the white man governs himself, that is 
self-government; but when he governs himself and also 
governs others, it is no longer self-government; it is despo- 
tism."* But as long as all this criticism shrank from 
recognising the inseverable bond between imperialism and 
the trusts, and, therefore, between imperialism and the 
foundations of capitalism, while it shrank from joining 
the forces engendered by large-scale capitalism and its 
development — it remained a "pious wish". 

J. Patouillet, L 'imperialisme americain, Dijon, 1904, p. 272. 



This is also the main attitude taken by Hobson in his 
critique of imperialism. Hobson anticipated Kautsky in 
protesting against the "inevitability of imperialism" 
argument, and in urging the necessity of "increasing the 
consuming capacity" of the people (under capitalism!). The 
petty-bourgeois point of view in the critique of imperialism 
the omnipotence of the banks, the financial oligarchy, etc., 
is adopted by the authors I have often quoted, such as 
Agahd, A. Lansburgh, L. Eschwege, and among the French 
writers Victor Berard, author of a superficial book entitled 
England and Imperialism which appeared in 1900. All these 
authors, who make no claim to be Marxists, contrast impe- 
rialism with free competition and democracy, condemn the 
Baghdad railway scheme, which is leading to conflicts and 
war, utter "pious wishes" for peace, etc. This applies also 
to the compiler of international stock and share issue 
statistics, A. Neymarck, who, after calculating the thou- 
sands of millions of francs representing "international" 
securities, exclaimed in 1912: "Is it possible to believe 
that peace may be disturbed ... that, in the face of these 
enormous figures, anyone would risk starting a war?"* 

Such simple-mindedness on the part of the bourgeois 
economists is not surprising; moreover, it is in their interest 
to pretend to be so naive and to talk "seriously" about peace 
under imperialism. But what remains of Kautsky' s Marxism, 
when, in 1914, 1915 and 1916, he takes up the same bour- 
geois-reformist point of view and affirms that "everybody 
is agreed" (imperialists, pseudo-socialists and social-paci- 
fists) on the matter of peace? Instead of an analysis of im- 
perialism and an exposure of the depths of its contradictions, 
we have nothing but a reformist "pious wish" to wave them 
aside, to evade them. 

Here is a sample of Kautsky's economic criticism of 
imperialism. He takes the statistics of the British export 
and import trade with Egypt for 1872 and 1912; it seems 
that this export and import trade has grown more slowly 
than British foreign trade as a whole. From this Kautsky 
concludes that "we have no reason to suppose that without 

* Bulletin de Vlnstitut International de Statistique, T. XIX. 
livr. II, p. 225. 



military occupation the growth of British trade with Egypt 
would have been less, simply as a result of the mere oper- 
ation of economic factors". "The urge of capital to expand ... 
can be best promoted, not by the violent methods of impe- 
rialism, but by peaceful democracy."* 

This argument of Kautsky's, which is repeated in every 
key by his Russian armour-bearer (and Russian shielder of 
the social-chauvinists), Mr. Spectator, 92 constitutes the 
basis of Kautskian critique of imperialism, and that is why 
we must deal with it in greater detail. We will begin with 
a quotation from Hilferding, whose conclusions Kautsky 
on many occasions, and notably in April 1915, has declared 
to have been "unanimously adopted by all socialist theore- 

"It is not the business of the proletariat," writes Hilferd- 
ing, "to contrast the more progressive capitalist policy 
with that of the now bygone era of free trade and of hostil- 
ity towards the state. The reply of the proletariat to the 
economic policy of finance capital, to imperialism, cannot 
be free trade, but socialism. The aim of proletarian policy 
cannot today be the ideal of restoring free competition — 
which has now become a reactionary ideal — but the complete 
elimination of competition by the abolition of capitalism."** 

Kautsky broke with Marxism by advocating in the epoch 
of finance capital a "reactionary ideal", "peaceful democ- 
racy", "the mere operation of economic factors", for objec- 
tively this ideal drags us back from monopoly to non-mo- 
nopoly capitalism, and is a reformist swindle. 

Trade with Egypt (or with any other colony or semi- 
colony) "would have grown more" without military occupa- 
tion, without imperialism, and without finance capital. 
What does this mean? That capitalism would have 
developed more rapidly if free competition had not been 
restricted by monopolies in general, or by the "corrections", 
yoke (i.e., also the monopoly) of finance capital, or by 
the monopolist possession of colonies by certain countries? 

Kautsky's argument can have no other meaning; and 

* Kautsky, Nationalstaat, imperialistischer Staat und Staaten- 
bund, Niirnberg, 1915, S. 72, 70. 
** Finance Capital, p. 567. 



this "meaning" is meaningless. Let us assume that free 
competition, without any sort of monopoly, would have 
developed capitalism and trade more rapidly. But the more 
rapidly trade and capitalism develop, the greater is the 
concentration of production and capital which gives rise 
to monopoly. And monopolies have already arisen — pre- 
cisely out of free competition! Even if monopolies have 
now begun to retard progress, it is not an argument in 
favour of free competition, which has become impossible 
after it has given rise to monopoly. 

Whichever way one turns Kautsky's argument, one will 
find nothing in it except reaction and bourgeois reform- 

Even if we correct this argument and say, as Spectator 
says, that the trade of the colonies with Britain is now 
developing more slowly than their trade with other coun- 
tries, it does not save Kautsky; for it is also monopoly, also 
imperialism that is beating Great Britain, only it is the 
monopoly and imperialism of another country (America, 
Germany). It is known that the cartels have given rise 
to a new and peculiar form of protective tariffs, i.e., goods 
suitable for export are protected (Engels noted this in 
Vol. Ill of Capital 93 ). It is known, too, that the cartels and 
finance capital have a system peculiar to themselves, that 
of "exporting goods at cut-rate prices", or "dumping", as 
the English call it: within a given country the cartel sells 
its goods at high monopoly prices, but sells them abroad at 
a much lower price to undercut the competitor, to enlarge 
its own production to the utmost, etc. If Germany's trade 
with the British colonies is developing more rapidly than 
Great Britain's, it only proves that German imperialism is 
younger, stronger and better organised than British impe- 
rialism, is superior to it; but it by no means proves the 
"superiority" of free trade, for it is not a fight between 
free trade and protection and colonial dependence, but be- 
tween two rival imperialisms, two monopolies, two groups of 
finance capital. The superiority of German imperialism over 
British imperialism is more potent than the wall of colonial 
frontiers or of protective tariffs: to use this as an "argument" 
in favour of free trade and "peaceful democracy" is banal, 
it means forgetting the essential features and characteris- 



tics of imperialism, substituting petty-bourgeois reformism 
for Marxism. 

It is interesting to note that even the bourgeois economist, 
A. Lansburgh, whose criticism of imperialism is as petty- 
bourgeois as Kautsky's, nevertheless got closer to a more 
scientific study of trade statistics. He did not compare 
one single country, chosen at random, and one single colony 
with the other countries; he examined the export trade of 
an imperialist country: (1) with countries which are finan- 
cially dependent upon it, and borrow money from it; 
and (2) with countries which are financially independent. 
He obtained the following results: 

Export Trade of Germany (000,000 marks) 

1889 1908 Per cent 

S . -g >> /Rumania 48.2 70.8 47 

* Portugal 19.0 32.8 73 

g -3 gS J Argentina 60.7 147.0 143 

g g a ] Brazil 48.7 84.5 73 

o-S-S" Chile 28.3 52.4 85 

H^.S o \ Turkey 29.9 64.0 114 

CO fl 

.2 >> ° 

+2 cs 

3 s-s a < 

P yn 


TotaZ 234.8 451.5 92 

( Great Britain 651.8 997.4 53 

France 210.2 437.9 108 

Belgium 137.2 322.8 135 

Switzerland 177.4 401.1 127 

Australia 21.2 64.5 205 

V Dutch East Indies 8.8 40.7 363 

Total 1,206.6 2,264.4 87 

Lansburgh did not draw conclusions and therefore, 
strangely enough, failed to observe that if the figures prove 
anything at all, they prove that he is wrong, for the exports 
to countries financially dependent on Germany have grown 
more rapidly, if only slightly, than exports to the countries 
which are financially independent. (I emphasise the 
"if", for Lansburgh's figures are far from complete.) 

Tracing the connection between exports and loans, Lans- 
burgh writes: 

"In 1890-91, a Rumanian loan was floated through the 
German banks, which had already in previous years made 



advances on this loan.. It was used chiefly to purchase rail- 
way materials in Germany. In 1891, German exports to 
Rumania amounted to 55 million marks. The following 
year they dropped to 39.4 million marks and, with fluctua- 
tions, to 25.4 million in 1900. Only in very recent years 
have they regained the level of 1891, thanks to two new 

"German exports to Portugal rose, following the loans of 
1888-89, to 21,100,000 (1890); then, in the two following 
years, they dropped to 16,200,000 and 7,400,000, and regained 
their former level only in 1903. 

"The figures of German trade with Argentina are still 
more striking. Loans were floated in 1888 and 1890; 
German exports to Argentina reached 60,700,000 marks 
(1889). Two years later they amounted to only 18,600,000 
marks, less than one-third of the previous figure. It was not 
until 1901 that they regained and surpassed the level of 
1889, and then only as a result of new loans floated by the 
state and by municipalities, with advances to build power 
stations, and with other credit operations. 

"Exports to Chile, as a consequence of the loan of 1889, 
rose to 45,200,000 marks (in 1892), and a year later dropped 
to 22,500,000 marks. A new Chilean loan floated by the 
German banks in 1906 was followed by a rise of exports to 
84,700,000 marks in 1907, only to fall again to 52,400,000 
marks in 1908."* 

From these facts Lansburgh draws the amusing petty- 
bourgeois moral of how unstable and irregular export trade 
is when it is bound up with loans, how bad it is to invest 
capital abroad instead of "naturally" and "harmoniously" 
developing home industry, how "costly" are the millions 
in bakhshish that Krupp has to pay in floating foreign 
loans, etc. But the facts tell us clearly: the increase in 
exports is connected with just these swindling tricks of finance 
capital, which is not concerned with bourgeois morality, 
but with skinning the ox twice — first, it pockets the profits 
from the loan; then it pockets other profits from the same 
loan which the borrower uses to make purchases from Krupp, 
or to purchase railway material from the Steel Syndicate, etc. 

*Die Bank, 1909, 2, S. 819 et seq. 



I repeat that I do not by any means consider Lans- 
burgh's figures to be perfect; but I had to quote them 
because they are more scientific than Kautsky's and Specta- 
tor's and because Lansburgh showed the correct way to 
approach the question. In discussing the significance of 
finance capital in regard to exports, etc., one must be able 
to single out the connection of exports especially and 
solely with the tricks of the financiers, especially and solely 
with the sale of goods by cartels, etc. Simply to compare 
colonies with non-colonies, one imperialism with another 
imperialism, one semi-colony or colony (Egypt) with all 
other countries, is to evade and to obscure the very essence 
of the question. 

Kautsky's theoretical critique of imperialism has nothing 
in common with Marxism and serves only as a preamble 
to propaganda for peace and unity with the opportunists 
and the social-chauvinists, precisely for the reason that it 
evades and obscures the very profound and fundamental 
contradictions of imperialism: the contradictions between 
monopoly and free competition which exists side by side 
with it, between the gigantic "operations" (and gigantic 
profits) of finance capital and "honest" trade in the free 
market, the contradiction between cartels and trusts, on 
the one hand, and non-cartelised industry, on the other, etc. 

The notorious theory of "ultra-imperialism", invented 
by Kautsky, is just as reactionary. Compare his arguments 
on this subject in 1915, with Hobson's arguments in 1902. 

Kautsky: "...Cannot the present imperialist policy be 
supplanted by a new, ultra-imperialist policy, which will 
introduce the joint exploitation of the world by internation- 
ally united finance capital in place of the mutual rival- 
ries of national finance capitals? Such a new phase of capi- 
talism is at any rate conceivable. Can it be achieved? 
Sufficient premises are still lacking to enable us to answer 
this question."* 

Hobson: "Christendom thus laid out in a few great federal 
empires, each with a retinue of uncivilised dependencies, 
seems to many the most legitimate development of present 

Die Neue Zeit, April 30, 1915, S. 144. 



tendencies, and one which would offer the best hope of per- 
manent peace on an assured basis of inter-Imperialism." 

Kautsky called ultra-imperialism or super-imperialism 
what Hobson, thirteen years earlier, described as inter- 
imperialism. Except for coining a new and clever catchword, 
replacing one Latin prefix by another, the only progress 
Kautsky has made in the sphere of "scientific" thought is 
that he gave out as Marxism what Hobson, in effect, 
described as the cant of English parsons. After the Anglo-Boer 
War it was quite natural for this highly honourable caste 
to exert their main efforts to console the British middle 
class and the workers who had lost many of their relatives 
on the battlefields of South Africa and who were obliged 
to pay higher taxes in order to guarantee still higher profits 
for the British financiers. And what better consolation 
could there be than the theory that imperialism is not so 
bad; that it stands close to inter- (or ultra-) imperialism, 
which can ensure permanent peace? No matter what the 
good intentions of the English parsons, or of sentimental 
Kautsky, may have been, the only objective, i.e., real, 
social significance of Kautsky's "theory" is this: it is a most 
reactionary method of consoling the masses with hopes of 
permanent peace being possible under capitalism, by 
distracting their attention from the sharp antagonisms and 
acute problems of the present times, and directing it towards 
illusory prospects of an imaginary "ultra-imperialism" of 
the future. Deception of the masses — that is all there is in 
Kautsky's "Marxist" theory. 

Indeed, it is enough to compare well-known and indisput- 
able facts to become convinced of the utter falsity of the 
prospects which Kautsky tries to conjure up before the Ger- 
man workers (and the workers of all lands). Let us consider 
India, Indo-China and China. It is known that these three 
colonial and semi-colonial countries, with a population 
of six to seven hundred million, are subjected to the exploi- 
tation of the finance capital of several imperialist powers: 
Great Britain, France, Japan, the U.S.A., etc. Let us 
assume that these imperialist countries form alliances against 
one another in order to protect or enlarge their possessions, 
their interests and their spheres of influence in these Asiatic 
states; these alliances will be "inter-imperialist", or "ultra- 



imperialist" alliances. Let us assume that all the imperial- 
ist countries conclude an alliance for the "peaceful" division 
of these parts of Asia; this alliance would be an alliance 
of "internationally united finance capital". There are actual 
examples of alliances of this kind in the history of the twen- 
tieth century — the attitude of the powers to China, for 
instance. We ask, is it "conceivable", assuming that the 
capitalist system remains intact — and this is precisely the 
assumption that Kautsky does make — that such alliances 
would be more than temporary, that they would eliminate 
friction, conflicts and struggle in every possible form? 

The question has only to be presented clearly for any other 
than a negative answer to be impossible. This is because 
the only conceivable basis under capitalism for the division 
of spheres of influence, interests, colonies, etc., is a calcu- 
lation of the strength of those participating, their general 
economic, financial, military strength, etc. And the strength 
of these participants in the division does not change to an 
equal degree, for the even development of different under- 
takings, trusts, branches of industry, or countries is impos- 
sible under capitalism. Half a century ago Germany was a 
miserable, insignificant country, if her capitalist strength 
is compared with that of the Britain of that time; Japan 
compared with Russia in the same way. Is it "conceivable" 
that in ten or twenty years' time the relative strength of 
the imperialist powers will have remained wrechanged? 
It is out of the question. 

Therefore, in the realities of the capitalist system, and 
not in the banal philistine fantasies of English parsons, 
or of the German "Marxist", Kautsky, "inter-imperialist" 
or "ultra-imperialist" alliances, no matter what form they 
may assume, whether of one imperialist coalition against 
another, or of a general alliance embracing all the impe- 
rialist powers, are inevitably nothing more than a "truce" 
in periods between wars. Peaceful alliances prepare the 
ground for wars, and in their turn grow out of wars; the one 
conditions the other, producing alternating forms of 
peaceful and non-peaceful struggle on one and the same basis 
of imperialist connections and relations within world eco- 
nomics and world politics. But in order to pacify the workers 
and reconcile them with the social-chauvinists who have 



deserted to the side of the bourgeoisie, over-wise Kautsky 
separates one link of a single chain from another, separates 
the present peaceful (and ultra-imperialist, nay, ultra- 
ultra-imperialist) alliance of all the powers for the "pacifica- 
tion" of China (remember the suppression of the Boxer 
Rebellion 94 ) from the non-peaceful conflict of tomorrow, 
which will prepare the ground for another "peaceful" general 
alliance for the partition, say, of Turkey, on the day after 
tomorrow, etc., etc. Instead of showing the living connec- 
tion between periods of imperialist peace and periods of 
imperialist war, Kautsky presents the workers with a 
lifeless abstraction in order to reconcile them to their lifeless 

An American writer, Hill, in his A History of the Dip- 
lomacy in the International Development of Europe refers 
in his preface to the following periods in the recent history 
of diplomacy: (1) the era of revolution; (2) the constitu- 
tional movement; (3) the present era of "commercial impe- 
rialism".* Another writer divides the history of Great 
Britain's "world policy" since 1870 into four periods: (1) the 
first Asiatic period (that of the struggle against Russia's 
advance in Central Asia towards India); (2) the African 
period (approximately 1885-1902): that of the struggle 
against France for the partition of Africa (the "Fashoda 
incident" of 1898 which brought her within a hair's breadth 
of war with France); (3) the second Asiatic period (alliance 
with Japan against Russia); and (4) the "European" period, 
chiefly anti-German.** "The political patrol clashes take 
place on the financial field," wrote the banker, Riesser, in 
1905, in showing how French finance capital operating in 
Italy was preparing the way for a political alliance of these 
countries, and how a conflict was developing between Ger- 
many and Great Britain over Persia, between all the 
European capitalists over Chinese loans, etc. Behold, the living 
reality of peaceful "ultra-imperialist" alliances in their 
inseverable connection with ordinary imperialist conflicts! 

Kautsky's obscuring of the deepest contradictions of 

* David Jayne Hill, A History of the Diplomacy in the Interna- 
tional Development of Europe, Vol. I, p. x. 
**Schilder, op. cit., S. 178. 



imperialism, which inevitably boils down to painting imperi- 
alism in bright colours, leaves its traces in this writer's 
criticism of the political features of imperialism. Imperial- 
ism is the epoch of finance capital and of monopolies, which 
introduce everywhere the striving for domination, not for 
freedom. Whatever the political system the result of these 
tendencies is everywhere reaction and an extreme intensifica- 
tion of antagonisms in this field. Particularly intensified 
become the yoke of national oppression and the striving for 
annexations, i.e., the violation of national independence 
(for annexation is nothing but the violation of the right 
of nations to self-determination). Hilferding rightly notes 
the connection between imperialism and the intensification 
of national oppression. "In the newly opened-up countries," 
he writes, "the capital imported into them intensifies 
antagonisms and excites against the intruders the constantly 
growing resistance of the peoples who are awakening to 
national consciousness; this resistance can easily develop 
into dangerous measures against foreign capital. The old 
social relations become completely revolutionised, the 
age-long agrarian isolation of 'nations without history' 
is destroyed and they are drawn into the capitalist whirl- 
pool. Capitalism itself gradually provides the subjugated 
with the means and resources for their emancipation and 
they set out to achieve the goal which once seemed highest 
to the European nations: the creation of a united national 
state as a means to economic and cultural freedom. This 
movement for national independence threatens European 
capital in its most valuable and most promising fields of 
exploitation, and European capital can maintain its domi- 
nation only by continually increasing its military forces."* 
To this must be added that it is not only in newly opened- 
up countries, but also in the old, that imperialism is leading 
to annexation, to increased national oppression, and, con- 
sequently, also to increasing resistance. While objecting 
to the intensification of political reaction by imperialism, 
Kautsky leaves in the shade a question that has become 
particularly urgent, viz., the impossibility of unity with 
the opportunists in the epoch of imperialism. While object- 

Finance Capital, p. 487. 



ing to annexations, he presents his objections in a form 
that is most acceptable and least offensive to the oppor- 
tunists. He addresses himself to a German audience, yet 
he obscures the most topical and important point, for 
instance, the annexation of Alsace-Lorraine by Germany. 
In order to appraise this "mental aberration" of Kautsky's 
I shall take the following example. Let us suppose that 
a Japanese condemns the annexation of the Philippines 
by the Americans. The question is: will many believe that 
he does so because he has a horror of annexations as 
such, and not because he himself has a desire to annex the 
Philippines? And shall we not be constrained to admit 
that the "fight" the Japanese is waging against annexations 
can be regarded as being sincere and politically honest 
only if he fights against the annexation of Korea by Japan, 
and urges freedom for Korea to secede from Japan? 

Kautsky's theoretical analysis of imperialism, as well 
as his economic and political critique of imperialism, are 
permeated through and through with a spirit, absolutely 
irreconcilable with Marxism, of obscuring and glossing 
over the fundamental contradictions of imperialism and 
with a striving to preserve at all costs the crumbling unity 
with opportunism in the European working-class movement. 


We have seen that in its economic essence imperialism 
is monopoly capitalism. This in itself determines its place 
in history, for monopoly that grows out of the soil of free 
competition, and precisely out of free competition, is the 
transition from the capitalist system to a higher socio- 
economic order. We must take special note of the four prin- 
cipal types of monopoly, or principal manifestations of 
monopoly capitalism, which are characteristic of the epoch 
we are examining. 

Firstly, monopoly arose out of the concentration of 
production at a very high stage. This refers to the monop- 
olist capitalist associations, cartels, syndicates and trusts. 
We have seen the important part these play in present-day 
economic life. At the beginning of the twentieth century, 



monopolies had acquired complete supremacy in the 
advanced countries, and although the first steps towards 
the formation of the cartels were taken by countries enjoying 
the protection of high tariffs (Germany, America), Great 
Britain, with her system of free trade, revealed the same 
basic phenomenon, only a little later, namely, the birth 
of monopoly out of the concentration of production. 

Secondly, monopolies have stimulated the seizure of the 
most important sources of raw materials, especially for 
the basic and most highly cartelised industries in capi- 
talist society: the coal and iron industries. The monopoly 
of the most important sources of raw materials has enormous- 
ly increased the power of big capital, and has sharpened the 
antagonism between cartelised and non-cartelised industry. 

Thirdly, monopoly has sprung from the banks. The banks 
have developed from modest middleman enterprises into 
the monopolists of finance capital. Some three to five of 
the biggest banks in each of the foremost capitalist countries 
have achieved the "personal link-up" between industrial 
and bank capital, and have concentrated in their hands the 
control of thousands upon thousands of millions which 
form the greater part of the capital and income of entire 
countries. A financial oligarchy, which throws a close net- 
work of dependence relationships over all the economic 
and political institutions of present-day bourgeois society 
without exception — such is the most striking manifestation 
of this monopoly. 

Fourthly, monopoly has grown out of colonial policy. 
To the numerous "old" motives of colonial policy, finance 
capital has added the struggle for the sources of raw mate- 
rials, for the export of capital, for spheres of influence, i.e., 
for spheres for profitable deals, concessions, monopoly 
profits and so on, economic territory in general. When the 
colonies of the European powers, for instance, comprised 
only one-tenth of the territory of Africa (as was the case in 
1876), colonial policy was able to develop by methods other 
than those of monopoly — by the "free grabbing" of territo- 
ries, so to speak. But when nine-tenths of Africa had been 
seized (by 1900), when the whole world had been divided 
up, there was inevitably ushered in the era of monopoly 
possession of colonies and, consequently, of particularly 



intense struggle for the division and the redivision of the 

The extent to which monopolist capital has intensified 
all the contradictions of capitalism is generally known. 
It is sufficient to mention the high cost of living and the 
tyranny of the cartels. This intensification of contradic- 
tions constitutes the most powerful driving force of the 
transitional period of history, which began from the time 
of the final victory of world finance capital. 

Monopolies, oligarchy, the striving for domination and 
not for freedom, the exploitation of an increasing number of 
small or weak nations by a handful of the richest or most 
powerful nations — all these have given birth to those dis- 
tinctive characteristics of imperialism which compel us 
to define it as parasitic or decaying capitalism. More and 
more prominently there emerges, as one of the tendencies 
of imperialism, the creation of the "rentier state", the usurer 
state, in which the bourgeoisie to an ever-increasing degree 
lives on the proceeds of capital exports and by "clipping 
coupons". It would be a mistake to believe that this tendency 
to decay precludes the rapid growth of capitalism. It does 
not. In the epoch of imperialism, certain branches of 
industry, certain strata of the bourgeoisie and certain coun- 
tries betray, to a greater or lesser degree, now one and now 
another of these tendencies. On the whole, capitalism is 
growing far more rapidly than before; but this growth is 
not only becoming more and more uneven in general, its 
unevenness also manifests itself, in particular, in the decay 
of the countries which are richest in capital (Britain). 

In regard to the rapidity of Germany's economic develop- 
ment, Riesser, the author of the book on the big German 
banks, states: "The progress of the preceding period (1848- 
70), which had not been exactly slow, compares with the 
rapidity with which the whole of Germany's national econ- 
omy, and with it German banking, progressed during this 
period (1870-1905) in about the same way as the speed of 
the mail coach in the good old days compares with the 
speed of the present-day automobile ... which is whizzing 
past so fast that it endangers not only innocent pedestrians 
in its path, but also the occupants of the car." In its turn, 
this finance capital which has grown with such extraordi- 



nary rapidity is not unwilling, precisely because it has 
grown so quickly, to pass on to a more "tranquil" possession 
of colonies which have to be seized — and not only by 
peaceful methods — from richer nations. In the United States, 
economic development in the last decades has been even 
more rapid than in Germany, and for this very reason, 
the parasitic features of modern American capitalism have 
stood out with particular prominence. On the other hand, 
a comparison of, say, the republican American bourgeoisie 
with the monarchist Japanese or German bourgeoisie shows 
that the most pronounced political distinction diminishes 
to an extreme degree in the epoch of imperialism — not 
because it is unimportant in general, but because in all 
these cases we are talking about a bourgeoisie which has 
definite features of parasitism. 

The receipt of high monopoly profits by the capitalists 
in one of the numerous branches of industry, in one of the 
numerous countries, etc., makes it economically possible 
for them to bribe certain sections of the workers, and for 
a time a fairly considerable minority of them, and win 
them to the side of the bourgeoisie of a given industry or 
given nation against all the others. The intensification of 
antagonisms between imperialist nations for the division 
of the world increases this urge. And so there is created 
that bond between imperialism and opportunism, which 
revealed itself first and most clearly in Great Britain, owing 
to the fact that certain features of imperialist development 
were observable there much earlier than in other countries. 
Some writers, L. Martov, for example, are prone to wave 
aside the connection between imperialism and opportunism 
in the working-class movement — a particularly glaring 
fact at the present time — by resorting to "official optimism" 
(a la Kautsky and Huysmans) like the following: the cause 
of the opponents of capitalism would be hopeless if it were 
progressive capitalism that led to the increase of opportun- 
ism, or, if it were the best-paid workers who were inclined 
towards opportunism, etc. We must have no illusions about 
"optimism" of this kind. It is optimism in respect of 
opportunism; it is optimism which serves to conceal oppor- 
tunism. As a matter of fact the extraordinary rapidity and 
the particularly revolting character of the development of 



opportunism is by no means a guarantee that its victory 
will be durable: the rapid growth of a painful abscess on 
a healthy body can only cause it to burst more quickly 
and thus relieve the body of it. The most dangerous of all 
in this respect are those who do not wish to understand that 
the fight against imperialism is a sham and humbug unless 
it is inseparably bound up with the fight against opportun- 

From all that has been said in this book on the economic 
essence of imperialism, it follows that we must define it 
as capitalism in transition, or, more precisely, as moribund 
capitalism. It is very instructive in this respect to note 
that bourgeois economists, in describing modern capitalism, 
frequently employ catchwords and phrases like "interlock- 
ing", "absence of isolation", etc.; "in conformity with their 
functions and course of development", banks are "not 
purely private business enterprises; they are more and 
more outgrowing the sphere of purely private business 
regulation". And this very Riesser, whose words I have 
just quoted, declares with all seriousness that the "prophecy" 
of the Marxists concerning "socialisation" has "not come 

What then does this catchword "interlocking" express? 
It merely expresses the most striking feature of the process 
going on before our eyes. It shows that the observer counts 
the separate trees, but cannot see the wood. It slavishly 
copies the superficial, the fortuitous, the chaotic. It 
reveals the observer as one who is overwhelmed by the mass 
of raw material and is utterly incapable of appreciating 
its meaning and importance. Ownership of shares, the 
relations between owners of private property "interlock in 
a haphazard way". But underlying this interlocking, its 
very base, are the changing social relations of production. 
When a big enterprise assumes gigantic proportions, and, 
on the basis of an exact computation of mass data, 
organises according to plan the supply of primary raw 
materials to the extent of two-thirds, or three-fourths, of all 
that is necessary for tens of millions of people; when the 
raw materials are transported in a systematic and organised 
manner to the most suitable places of production, sometimes 
situated hundreds or thousands of miles from each other; 



when a single centre directs all the consecutive stages 
of processing the material right up to the manufacture of 
numerous varieties of finished articles; when these products 
are distributed according to a single plan among tens and 
hundreds of millions of consumers (the marketing of oil 
in America and Germany by the American oil trust) — then 
it becomes evident that we have socialisation of production, 
and not mere "interlocking"; that private economic and 
private property relations constitute a shell which no longer 
fits its contents, a shell which must inevitably decay if 
its removal is artificially delayed, a shell which may remain 
in a state of decay for a fairly long period (if, at the worst, 
the cure of the opportunist abscess is protracted), but which 
will inevitably be removed. 

The enthusiastic admirer of German imperialism, Schulze- 
Gaevernitz, exclaims: 

"Once the supreme management of the German banks 
has been entrusted to the hands of a dozen persons, their 
activity is even today more significant for the public good 

than that of the majority of the Ministers of State [The 

"interlocking" of bankers, ministers, magnates of industry 
and rentiers is here conveniently forgotten.] If we imagine 
the development of those tendencies we have noted carried 
to their logical conclusion we will have: the money capital 
of the nation united in the banks; the banks themselves 
combined into cartels; the investment capital of the nation 
cast in the shape of securities. Then the forecast of that 
genius Saint-Simon will be fulfilled: 'The present anarchy 
of production, which corresponds to the fact that economic 
relations are developing without uniform regulation, must 
make way for organisation in production. Production will 
no longer be directed by isolated manufacturers, independent 
of each other and ignorant of man's economic needs; that 
will be done by a certain public institution. A central com- 
mittee of management, being able to survey the large field 
of social economy from a more elevated point of view, will 
regulate it for the benefit of the whole of society, will put 
the means of production into suitable hands, and above all 
will take care that there be constant harmony between 
production and consumption. Institutions already exist 
which have assumed as part of their functions a certain 



organisation of economic labour, the banks.' We are still 
a long way from the fulfilment of Saint-Simon's forecast, 
but we are on the way towards it: Marxism, different from 
what Marx imagined, but different only in form."* 

A crushing "refutation" of Marx, indeed, which retreats 
a step from Marx's precise, scientific analysis to Saint- 
Simon's guess-work, the guess-work of a genius, but guess- 
work all the same. 

Grundriss der Sozialokonomik, S. 146. 



At last there has appeared in Germany, illegally, without 
any adaptation to the despicable Junker censorship, a 
Social-Democratic pamphlet dealing with questions of the 
war! The author, who evidently belongs to the "Left-radical" 
wing of the Party, takes the name of Junius 95 (which in 
Latin means junior) and gives his pamphlet the title: The 
Crisis of Social-Democracy . Appended are the "Theses on 
the Tasks of International Social-Democracy", which have 
already been submitted to the Berne I.S.C. (International 
Socialist Committee) and published in No. 3 of its Bulletin; 
the theses were drafted by the Internationale group, which 
in the spring of 1915 published one issue of a magazine 
under that title (with articles by Zetkin, Mehring, R. 
Luxemburg, Thalheimer, Duncker, Strobel and others), and 
which in the winter of 1915-16 convened a conference of 
Social-Democrats from all parts of Germany 96 where 
these theses were adopted. 

The pamphlet, the author says in the introduction dated 
January 2, 1916, was written in April 1915, and published 
"without any alteration". "Outside circumstances" had pre- 
vented its earlier publication. The pamphlet is devoted not 
so much to the "crisis of Social-Democracy" as to an analy- 
sis of the war, to refuting the legend of it being a war for 
national liberation, to proving that it is an imperialist 
war on the part of Germany as well as on the part of the 
other Great Powers, and to a revolutionary criticism of the 
behaviour of the official party. Written, in a very lively 
style, Junius's pamphlet has undoubtedly played and will 
continue to play an important role in the struggle against 
the ex-Social-Democratic Party of Germany, which has 
deserted to the bourgeoisie and the Junkers, and we extend 
our hearty greetings to the author. 



To the Russian reader who is familiar with the Social- 
Democratic literature in Russian published abroad in 1914- 
16, the Junius pamphlet does not offer anything new in prin- 
ciple. In reading this pamphlet and comparing the argu- 
ments of this German revolutionary Marxist with what 
has been stated, for example, in the Manifesto of the Central 
Committee of our Party (September-November 1914),* 
in the Berne resolutions (March 1915)** and in the numerous 
commentaries on them, it only becomes clear that Junius's 
arguments are very incomplete and that he makes two mis- 
takes. Before proceeding with a criticism of Junius's faults 
and errors we must strongly emphasise that this is done 
for the sake of self-criticism, which is so necessary to Marx- 
ists, and of submitting to an all-round test the views 
which must serve as the ideological basis of the Third 
International. On the whole, the Junius pamphlet is a splen- 
did Marxist work, and its defects are, in all probability, 
to a certain extent accidental. 

The chief defect in Junius's pamphlet, and what marks 
a definite step backward compared with the legal (although 
immediately suppressed) magazine, Internationale, is its 
silence regarding the connection between social-chauvinism 
(the author uses neither this nor the less precise term social- 
patriotism) and opportunism. The author rightly speaks 
of the "capitulation" and collapse of the German Social- 
Democratic Party and of the "treachery" of its official lead- 
ers", but he goes no further. The Internationale, however, 
did criticise the "Centre", i.e., Kautskyism, and quite prop- 
erly poured ridicule on it for its spinelessness, its pros- 
titution of Marxism and its servility to the opportunists. 
This same magazine began to expose the true role of the 
opportunists by revealing, for example, the very important 
fact that on August 4, 1914, the opportunists came out 
with an ultimatum, a ready-made decision to vote for war 
credits in any case. Neither the Junius pamphlet nor the 
theses say anything about opportunism or about Kauts- 
kyism! This is wrong from the standpoint of theory, for it 

* See present edition, Vol. 21, "The War and Russian Social- 
Democracy" — Ed. 

** Ibid., "The Conference of the R.S.D.L.P. Groups Abroad".— Ed. 



is impossible to account for the "betrayal" without linking 
it up with opportunism as a trend with a long history behind 
it, the history of the whole Second International. It is a 
mistake from the practical political standpoint, for it is 
impossible either to understand the "crisis of Social-Democ- 
racy", or overcome it, without clarifying the meaning 
and the role of two trends — the openly opportunist trend 
(Legien, David, etc.) and the tacitly opportunist trend 
(Kautsky and Co.). This is a step backward compared with 
the historic article by Otto Riihle in Vorwarts of January 12, 
1916, in which he directly and openly pointed out that a 
split in the Social-Democratic Party of Germany was inev- 
itable (the editors of Vorwarts replied by repeating honeyed 
and hypocritical Kautskyite phrases, for they were unable 
to advance a single material argument to disprove the 
assertion that there were already two parties in existence, 
and that these two parties could not be reconciled). It is 
astonishingly inconsistent, because the Internationale's 
thesis No. 12 directly states that it is necessary to create a 
"new" International, owing to the "treachery" of the "official 
representatives of the socialist parties of the leading coun- 
tries" and their "adoption of the principles of bourgeois 
imperialist policies". It is clearly quite absurd to suggest 
that the old Social-Democratic Party of Germany, or the 
party which tolerates Legien, David and Co., would partic- 
ipate in a "new" International. 

We do not know why the Internationale group took this 
step backward. A very great defect in revolutionary Marxism 
in Germany as a whole is its lack of a compact illegal organ- 
isation that would systematically pursue its own line and 
educate the masses in the spirit of the new tasks; such an 
organisation would also have to take a definite stand on 
opportunism and Kautskyism. This is all the more necessary 
now, since the German revolutionary Social-Democrats 
have been deprived of their last two daily papers; the one in 
Bremen (Bremer Burger- Zeitung), 97 and the one in Brunswick 
(Volksfreund), 98 both of which have gone over to the Kauts- 
kyites. The International Socialists of Germany (I.S.D.) 
group alone clearly and definitely remains at its post. 

Some members of the Internationale group have evidently 
once again slid down into the morass of unprincipled 



Kautskyism. Strobel, for instance, went so far as to drop a 
curtsey in Die Neue Zeit to Bernstein and Kautsky! And 
only the other day, on July 15, 1916, he had an article in 
the papers entitled "Pacifism and Social-Democracy", in 
which he defends the most vulgar type of Kautskyite 
pacifism. As for Junius, he strongly opposes Kautsky's fan- 
tastic schemes like "disarmament", "abolition of secret 
diplomacy", etc. There may be two trends within the Inter- 
nationale group: a revolutionary trend and a trend inclining 
to Kautskyism. 

The first of Junius's erroneous propositions is embodied 
in the fifth thesis of the Internationale group. "National 
wars are no longer possible in the epoch (era) of this 
unbridled imperialism. National interests serve only as an 
instrument of deception, in order to place the working 
masses at the service of their mortal enemy, imperialism." 
The beginning of the fifth thesis, which concludes with the 
above statement, discusses the nature of the present war as 
an imperialist war. It may be that this negation of national 
wars generally is either an oversight, or an accidental 
overstatement in emphasising the perfectly correct idea 
that the present war is an imperialist war, not a national 
war. This is a mistake that must be examined, for various 
Social-Democrats, in view of the false assertions that the 
present war is a national war, have likewise mistakenly 
denied the possibility of any national war. 

Junius is perfectly right in emphasising the decisive 
influence of the "imperialist atmosphere" of the present 
war, in maintaining that behind Serbia stands Russia, 
"behind Serbian nationalism stands Russian imperialism", 
and that the participation of, say, Holland in the war would 
likewise be imperialist, for, first, Holland would be defend- 
ing her colonies and, second, would be allied with one of 
the imperialist coalitions. That is irrefutable in respect to 
the present war. And when Junius stresses what for him is 
most important, namely, the struggle against the "phantom 
of national war", "which at present holds sway over Social- 
Democratic policies" (p. 81), then it must be admitted that 
his views are both correct and fully to the point. 

The only mistake, however, would be to exaggerate this 
truth, to depart from the Marxist requirement of concrete- 



ness, to apply the appraisal of this war to all wars possible 
under imperialism, to ignore the national movements against 
imperialism. The sole argument in defence of the thesis, 
"national wars are no longer possible", is that the world has 
been divided among a small group of "great" imperialist 
powers and for that reason any war, even if it starts as a 
national war, is transformed into an imperialist war 
involving the interest of one of the imperialist powers or 
coalitions (Junius, p. 81). 

The fallacy of this argument is obvious. That all dividing 
lines, both in nature and society, are conventional and 
dynamic, and that every phenomenon might, under certain 
conditions, be transformed into its opposite, is, of course, 
a basic proposition of Marxist dialectics. A national war 
might be transformed into an imperialist war and vice versa. 
Here is an example: the wars of the Great French Revolu- 
tion began as national wars and indeed were such. They were 
revolutionary wars — the defence of the great revolution 
against a coalition of counter-revolutionary monarchies. 
But when Napoleon founded the French Empire and sub- 
jugated a number of big, viable and long-established national 
European states, these national wars of the French 
became imperialist wars and in turn led to wars of national 
liberation against Napoleonic imperialism. 

Only a sophist can disregard the difference between an 
imperialist and a national war on the grounds that one 
might develop into the other. Not infrequently have dialec- 
tics served — and the history of Greek philosophy is an 
example — as a bridge to sophistry. But we remain dia- 
lecticians and we combat sophistry not by denying the pos- 
sibility of all transformations in general, but by analysing 
the given phenomenon in its concrete setting and develop- 

Transformation of the present imperialist war of 1914-16 
into a national war is highly improbable, for the class that 
represents progressive development is the proletariat which is 
objectively striving to transform it into a civil war against 
the bourgeoisie. Also this: there is no very considerable 
difference between the forces of the two coalitions, and 
international finance capital has created a reactionary bour- 
geoisie everywhere. But such a transformation should not 



be proclaimed impossible: if the European proletariat 
remains impotent, say, for twenty years; if the present war 
ends in victories like Napoleon's and in the subjugation of 
a number of viable national states; if the transition to social- 
ism of non-European imperialism (primarily Japanese 
and American) is also held up for twenty years by a war 
between these two countries, for example, then a great 
national war in Europe would be possible. It would hurl 
Europe back several decades. That is improbable. But not 
impossible, for it is undialectical, unscientific and theoret- 
ically wrong to regard the course of world history as smooth 
and always in a forward direction, without occasional gigan- 
tic leaps back. 

Further. National wars waged by colonies and semi- 
colonies in the imperialist era are not only probable but 
inevitable. About 1,000 million people, or over half of the 
world's population, live in the colonies and semi-colonies 
(China, Turkey, Persia). The national liberation movements 
there are either already very strong, or are growing and 
maturing. Every war is the continuation of politics by other 
means. The continuation of national liberation politics in 
the colonies will inevitably take the form of national wars 
against imperialism. Such wars might lead to an imperial- 
ist war of the present "great" imperialist powers, but on the 
other hand they might not. It will depend on many factors. 

Example: Britain and France fought the Seven Years' 
War for the possession of colonies. In other words, they 
waged an imperialist war (which is possible on the basis 
of slavery and primitive capitalism as well as on the basis 
of modern highly developed capitalism). France suffered 
defeat and lost some of her colonies. Several years later 
there began the national liberation war of the North Amer- 
ican States against Britain alone. France and Spain, then 
in possession of some parts of the present United States, 
concluded a friendship treaty with the States in rebellion 
against Britain. This they did out of hostility to Britain, 
i.e., in their own imperialist interests. French troops 
fought the British on the side of the American forces. What 
we have here is a national liberation war in which imperial- 
ist rivalry is an auxiliary element, one that has no serious 
importance. This is the very opposite to what we see in the 



war of 1914-16 (the national element in the Austro-Serbian 
War is of no serious importance compared with the all- 
determining element of imperialist rivalry). It would be 
absurd, therefore, to apply the concept imperialism indis- 
criminately and conclude that national wars are "impos- 
sible". A national liberation war, waged, for example, 
by an alliance of Persia, India and China against one or 
more of the imperialist powers, is both possible and prob- 
able, for it would follow from the national liberation move- 
ments in these countries. The transformation of such a war 
into an imperialist war between the present-day imperialist 
powers would depend upon very many concrete factors, 
the emergence of which it would be ridiculous to guarantee. 

Third, even in Europe national wars in the imperialist 
epoch cannot be regarded as impossible. The "epoch of 
imperialism" made the present war an imperialist one 
and it inevitably engenders new imperialist wars (until 
the triumph of socialism). This "epoch" has made the poli- 
cies of the present great powers thoroughly imperialist, 
but it by no means precludes national wars on the part of, 
say, small (annexed or nationally-oppressed) countries 
against the imperialist powers, just as it does not preclude 
large-scale national movements in Eastern Europe. Junius 
takes a very sober view of Austria, for example, giving due 
consideration not only to "economic" factors, but to the 
peculiar political factors. He notes "Austria's intrinsic 
lack of cohesion" and recognises that the "Hapsburg monarchy 
is not the political organisation of a bourgeois state, but 
only a loose syndicate of several cliques of social parasites", 
and that "the liquidation of Austria-Hungary is, from the 
historical standpoint, only the continuation of the disin- 
tegration of Turkey and, at the same time, a requirement 
of the historical process of development". Much the same 
applies to some of the Balkan countries and Russia. And 
if the "great" powers are altogether exhausted in the present 
war, or if the revolution in Russia triumphs, national wars 
and even victorious national wars, are quite possible. 
Practical intervention by the imperialist powers is not always 
feasible. That is one point. Another is that the superficial 
view that the war of a small state against a giant is hopeless 
should be countered by the observation that even a hopeless 



war is a war just the same. Besides, certain factors operat- 
ing within the "giant" countries — the outbreak of revolu- 
tion, for example — can turn a "hopeless" war into a very 
hopeful" one. 

We have dwelt in detail on the erroneous proposition 
that "national wars are no longer possible" not only because 
it is patently erroneous from the theoretical point of view — 
it would certainly be very lamentable if the "Left" were to 
reveal a light-hearted attitude to Marxist theory at a time 
when the establishment of the Third International is pos- 
sible only on the basis of unvulgarised Marxism. But the 
mistake is very harmful also from the standpoint of prac- 
tical politics, for it gives rise to the absurd propaganda of 
"disarmament", since it is alleged that there can be no wars 
except reactionary wars. It also gives rise to the even more 
ludicrous and downright reactionary attitude of indiffer- 
ence to national movements. And such an attitude becomes 
chauvinism when members of the "great" European nations, 
that is, the nations which oppress the mass of small and 
colonial peoples, declare with a pseudo-scientific air: 
"national wars are no longer possible"! National wars against 
the imperialist powers are not only possible and probable; 
they are inevitable, progressive and revolutionary though 
of course, to be successful, they require either the concerted 
effort of huge numbers of people in the oppressed countries 
(hundreds of millions in our example of India and China), 
or a particularly favourable conjuncture of international 
conditions (e.g., the fact that the imperialist powers cannot 
interfere, being paralysed by exhaustion, by war, by their 
antagonism, etc.), or the simultaneous uprising of the pro- 
letariat against the bourgeoisie in one of the big powers 
(this latter eventuality holds first place as the most desir- 
able and favourable for the victory of the proletariat). 

It would be unfair, however, to accuse Junius of indiffer- 
ence to national movements. At any rate, he remarks that 
among the sins of the Social-Democratic parliamentary 
group was its silence on the death sentence passed on a 
native leader in the Cameroons on charges of "treason" 
(evidently he attempted to organise an uprising against 
the war). Elsewhere Junius especially emphasises (for the 
benefit of the Legiens, Lensches and the other scoundrels 



who are still listed as "Social-Democrats") that colonial 
peoples must be regarded as nations along with all the 
others. Junius clearly and explicitly states: "Socialism 
recognised the right of every nation to independence and 
freedom, to independent mastery of its destinies"; "inter- 
national socialism recognises the right of free, independent 
and equal nations, but it is only socialism that can create 
such nations, and only it can realise the right of nations 
to self-determination. And this socialist slogan," Junius 
justly remarks, "serves, like all other socialist slogans, not 
to justify the existing order of things, but to indicate the 
way forward, and to stimulate the proletariat in its active 
revolutionary policy of transformation" (pp. 77-78). It 
would be a grave mistake indeed to believe that all the Ger- 
man Left Social-Democrats have succumbed to the narrow- 
mindedness and caricature of Marxism now espoused by 
certain Dutch and Polish Social-Democrats who deny 
the right of nations to self-determination even under social- 
ism. But the specific, Dutch-Polish, roots of this mistake 
we shall discuss elsewhere. 

Another fallacious argument is advanced by Junius on 
the question of defence of the fatherland. This is a cardinal 
political question during an imperialist war. Junius has 
strengthened us in our conviction that our Party has indi- 
cated the only correct approach to this question; the prole- 
tariat is opposed to defence of the fatherland in this 
imperialist war because of its predatory, slave-owning, 
reactionary character, because it is possible and necessary to 
oppose to it (and to strive to convert it into) civil war for 
socialism. Junius, however, while brilliantly exposing 
the imperialist character of the present war as distinct from 
a national war, makes the very strange mistake of trying to 
drag a national programme into the present, reore-national, 
war. It sounds almost incredible, but there it is. 

The official Social-Democrats, both of the Legien and of 
the Kautsky stripe, in their servility to the bourgeoisie 
(who have been making the most noise about foreign 
"invasion" in order to deceive the mass of the people as to the 
imperialist character of the war), have been particularly 
assiduous in repeating this "invasion" argument. Kautsky, 
who now assures naive and credulous people (incidentally, 



through Spectator, a member of the Russian Organising 
Committee) that he joined the opposition at the end of 
1914, continues to use this "argument"! To refute it, Junius 
quotes extremely instructive examples from history, which 
prove that "invasion and class struggle are not contradic- 
tory in bourgeois history, as official legend has it, but 
that one is the means and the expression of the other". For 
example, the Bourbons in France invoked foreign invaders 
against the Jacobins; the bourgeoisie in 1871 invoked 
foreign invaders against the Commune. In his Civil War 
in France, Marx wrote: 

"The highest heroic effort of which old society is still 
capable is national war; and this is now proved to be a 
mere governmental humbug, intended to defer the struggle 
of classes, and to be thrown aside as soon as that class 
struggle bursts out into civil war." 99 

"The classical example for all times," says Junius, 
referring to 1793, "is the Great French Revolution." From 
all this, he draws the following conclusion: "The century 
of experience thus proves that it is not a state of siege, 
but relentless class struggle, which rouses the self-respect, 
the heroism and the moral strength of the mass of the 
people, and serves as the country's best protection and defence 
against the external enemy." 

Junius's practical conclusion is this: "Yes, it is the duty 
of the Social-Democrats to defend their country during a 
great historical crisis. But the grave guilt that rests upon 
the Social-Democratic Reichstag group consists in their 
having given the lie to their own solemn declaration, made 
on August 4, 1914, 'In the hour of danger we will not leave 
our fatherland unprotected'. They did leave the fatherland 
unprotected in the hour of its greatest peril. For their first 
duty to the fatherland in that hour was to show the father- 
land what was really behind the present imperialist war; 
to sweep away the web of patriotic and diplomatic lies 
covering up this encroachment on the fatherland; to proclaim 
loudly and clearly that both victory and defeat in the present 
war are equally fatal for the German people; to resist 
to the last the throttling of the fatherland due to the state 
of siege; to proclaim the necessity of immediately arming 
the people and of allowing the people to decide the question 



of war and peace; resolutely to demand a permanent ses- 
sion of the people's representatives for the whole duration 
of the war in order to guarantee vigilant control over the 
government by the people's representatives, and control 
over the people's representatives by the people; to demand 
the immediate abolition of all restrictions on political 
rights, for only a free people can successfully defend its 
country; and finally, to oppose the imperialist war pro- 
gramme, which is to preserve Austria and Turkey, i.e., 
perpetuate reaction in Europe and in Germany, with the 
old, truly national programme of the patriots and democrats 
of 1848, the programme of Marx, Engels and Lassalle — the 
slogan of a united, Great German Republic. This is the 
banner that should have been unfurled before the country, 
which would have been a truly national banner of libera- 
tion, which would have been in accord with the best tra- 
ditions of Germany and with the international class policy 

of the proletariat Hence, the grave dilemma — the 

interests of the fatherland or the international solidarity of 
the proletariat — the tragic conflict which prompted our 
parliamentarians to side, 'with a heavy heart', with the 
imperialist war, is purely imaginary, it is a bourgeois 
nationalist fiction. On the contrary, there is complete 
harmony between the interests of the country and the class 
interests of the proletarian International, both in time of 
war and in time of peace; both war and peace demand the 
most energetic development of the class struggle, the most 
determined fight for the Social-Democratic programme." 

This is how Junius argues. The fallacy of his argument 
is strikingly evident, and since the tacit and avowed 
lackeys of tsarism, Plekhanov and Chkhenkeli, and perhaps 
even Martov and Chkheidze, may gloatingly seize upon 
Junius's words, not for the purpose of establishing 
theoretical truth, but for the purpose of wriggling, covering 
up their tracks and throwing dust into the eyes of the 
workers, we must in greater detail elucidate the theoretical 
source of Junius's error. 

He suggests that the imperialist war should be "opposed" 
with a national programme. He urges the advanced class to 
turn its face to the past and not to the future! In France, 
in Germany, and in the whole of Europe it was a bourgeois- 



democratic revolution that, objectively , was on the order 
of the day in 1793 and 1848. Corresponding to this objective 
historical situation was the "truly national", i.e., the 
national bourgeois programme of the then existing democ- 
racy; in 1793 this programme was carried out by the most 
revolutionary elements of the bourgeoisie and the plebeians, 
and in 1848 it was proclaimed by Marx in the name of the 
whole of progressive democracy. Objectively, the feudal 
and dynastic wars were then opposed by revolutionary- 
democratic wars, by wars for national liberation. This was 
the content of the historical tasks of that epoch. 

At the present time, the objective situation in the biggest 
advanced states of Europe is different. Progress, if we 
leave out for the moment the possibility of temporary steps 
backward, can be made only in the direction of socialist 
society, only in the direction of the socialist revolution. 
From the standpoint of progress, from the standpoint of 
the progressive class, the imperialist bourgeois war, the 
war of highly developed capitalism, can, objectively, be 
opposed only with a war against the bourgeoisie, i.e., pri- 
marily civil war for power between the proletariat and the 
bourgeoisie; for unless such a war is waged, serious prog- 
ress is impossible; this may be followed — only under cer- 
tain special conditions — by a war to defend the socialist 
state against bourgeois states. That is why the Bolsheviks 
(fortunately, very few, and quickly handed over by us to 
the Prizyv group) who were ready to adopt the point of view 
of conditional defence, i.e., defence of the fatherland on 
condition that there was a victorious revolution and the 
victory of a republic in Russia, were true to the letter of 
Bolshevism, but betrayed its spirit; for being drawn into 
the imperialist war of the leading European powers, Russia 
would also be waging an imperialist war, even under a 
republican form of government! 

In saying that the class struggle is the best means of 
defence against invasion, Junius applies Marxist dialectics 
only half way, taking one step on the right road and imme- 
diately deviating from it. Marxist dialectics call for a 
concrete analysis of each specific historical situation. It 
is true that class struggle is the best means of defence 
against invasion both when the bourgeoisie is overthrowing 



feudalism, and when the proletariat is overthrowing the 
bourgeoisie Precisely because it is true with regard to 
every form of class oppression, it is too general, and there- 
fore, inadequate in the present specific case. Civil war 
against the bourgeoisie is also a form of class struggle, and 
only this form of class struggle would have saved Europe 
(the whole of Europe, not only one country) from the peril 
of invasion. The "Great German Republic", had it existed 
in 1914-16, would also have waged an imperialist war. 

Junius came very close to the correct solution of the 
problem and to the correct slogan: civil war against the 
bourgeoisie for socialism; but, as if afraid to speak the 
whole truth, he turned back, to the fantasy of a "national 
war" in 1914, 1915 and 1916. If we examine the question 
not from the theoretical angle but from the purely practical 
one, Junius's error remains just as evident. The whole of 
bourgeois society, all classes in Germany, including the 
peasantry, were in favour of war (in all probability the 
same was the case in Russia — at least a majority of the 
well-to-do and middle peasantry and a very considerable 
portion of the poor peasants were evidently under the 
spell of bourgeois imperialism). The bourgeoisie was armed 
to the teeth. Under such circumstances to "proclaim" the 
programme of a republic, a permanent parliament, election 
of officers by the people (the "armed nation"), etc., would 
have meant, in practice, "proclaiming" a revolution (with 
the wrong revolutionary programme!). 

In the same breath Junius quite rightly says that a revo- 
lution cannot be "made". Revolution was on the order of 
the day in the 1914-16 period, it was hidden in the depths 
of the war, was emerging out of the war. This should have 
been "proclaimed" in the name of the revolutionary class, 
and its programme should have been fearlessly and fully 
announced, socialism is impossible in time of war without 
civil war against the arch-reactionary, criminal bourgeoisie, 
which condemns the people to untold disaster. Systematic, 
consistent, practical measures should have been planned, 
which could be carried out no matter at what pace the revolu- 
tionary crisis might develop, and which would be in line 
with the maturing revolution. These measures are indicated 
in our Party's resolution: (1) voting against war credits; 



(2) violation of the "class truce"; (3) creation of an illegal 
organisation; (4) fraternisation among the soldiers, (5) 
support for all the revolutionary actions of the masses.* 
The success of all these steps inevitably leads to civil war. 

The promulgation of a great historical programme was 
undoubtedly of tremendous significance; not the old nation- 
al German programme, which became obsolete in 1914, 
1915 and 1916, but the proletarian internationalist and 
socialist programme. "You, the bourgeoisie, are fighting 
for plunder; we, the workers of all the belligerent countries, 
declare war upon you for, socialism" — that's the sort of 
speech that should have been delivered in the parliaments on 
August 4, 1914, by socialists who had not betrayed the 
proletariat, as the Legiens, Davids, Kautskys, Plekhanovs, 
Guesdes, Sembats, etc., had done. 

Evidently Junius's error is due to two kinds of mistakes 
in reasoning. There is no doubt that Junius is decidedly 
opposed to the imperialist war and is decidedly in favour 
of revolutionary tactics; and all the gloating of the Ple- 
khanovs over Junius's "defencism" cannot wipe out this 
fact. Possible and probable calumnies of this kind must be 
answered promptly and bluntly. 

But, first, Junius has not completely rid himself of the 
"environment" of the German Social-Democrats, even the 
Leftists, who are afraid of a split, who are afraid to follow 
revolutionary slogans to their logical conclusions.** This 
is a false fear, and the Left Social-Democrats of Germany 
must and will rid themselves of it. They are sure to do so 
in the course of their struggle against the social-chauvin- 
ists. The fact is that they are fighting against their own 
social-chauvinists resolutely, firmly and sincerely, and 
this is the tremendous, the fundamental difference in prin- 

* See present edition, Vol. 21, "The Conference of the R.S.D.L.P. 
Group Abroad." — Ed. 

** We find the same error in Junius's arguments about which is 
better, victory or defeat? His conclusion is that both are equally bad 
(ruin, growth of armaments, etc.). This is the point of view not of 
the revolutionary proletariat, but of the pacifist petty bourgeoisie. 
If one speaks about the "revolutionary intervention" of the proletar- 
iat — of this both Junius and the theses of the International group 
speak, although unfortunately in terms that are too general — one 
must raise the question from another point of view, namely: (1) Is 



ciple between them and the Martovs and Chkheidzes, who, 
with one hand (d la Skobelev) unfurl a banner bearing the 
greeting, "To the Liebknechts of All Countries", and with 
the other hand tenderly embrace Chkhenkeli and Potresov! 

Secondly, Junius apparently wanted to achieve some- 
thing in the nature of the Menshevik "theory of stages", of sad 
memory; he wanted to begin to carry out the revolutionary 
programme from the end that is "more suitable", "more popu- 
lar" and more acceptable to the petty bourgeoisie. It is 
something like a plan "to outwit history", to outwit the 
philistines. He seems to say, surely, nobody would oppose 
a better way of defending the real fatherland; and the real 
fatherland is the Great German Republic, and the best 
defence is a militia, a permanent parliament, etc. Once 
it was accepted, that programme would automatically 
lead to the next stage — to the socialist revolution. 

Probably, it was reasoning of this kind that consciously 
or semi-consciously determined Junius's tactics. Needless 
to say, such reasoning is fallacious. Junius's pamphlet 
conjures up in our mind the picture of a lone man who has 
no comrades in an illegal organisation accustomed to think- 
ing out revolutionary slogans to their conclusion and 
systematically educating the masses in their spirit. But 
this shortcoming — it would be a grave error to forget this — is 
not Junius's personal failing, but the result of the weakness 
of all the German Leftists, who have become entangled in 
the vile net of Kautskyite hypocrisy, pedantry and "friend- 
liness" for the opportunists. Junius's adherents have 
managed, in spite of their isolation, to begin the publication 
of illegal leaflets and to start the war against Kautskyism. 
They will succeed in going further along the right road. 

Written in July 1916 

Published in Sbornik Published according to 

Sotsial-Demokrata No. 1, the text in Sbornik 

October 1916 
Signed: N. Lenin 

"revolutionary intervention" possible without the risk of defeat? 
(2) Is it possible to scourge the bourgeoisie and the government of 
one's own country without taking that risk? (3) Have we not always 
asserted, and does not the historical experience of reactionary wars 
prove, that defeats help the cause of the revolutionary class? 



Issue No. 2 of the Herald (Vorbote No. 2, April 1916), the 
Marxist journal of the Zimmerwald Left, published theses 
for and against the self-determination of nations, signed 
by the Editorial Board of our Central Organ, Sotsial-Demo- 
krat, and by the Editorial Board of the organ of the Polish 
Social-Democratic opposition, Gazeta Robotnicza. Above 
the reader will find a reprint of the former* and a translation 
of the latter theses. 100 This is practically the first time that 
the question has been presented so extensively in the inter- 
national field: it was raised only in respect of Poland in the 
discussion carried on in the German Marxist journal Neue 
Zeit twenty years ago, 1895-96, before the London Interna- 
tional Socialist Congress of 1896, by Rosa Luxemburg, 
Karl Kautsky and the Polish "independents" (champions 
of the independence of Poland, the Polish Socialist Party), 
who represented three different views. 101 Since then, as far 
as we know, the question of self-determination has been 
discussed at all systematically only by the Dutch and the 
Poles. Let us hope that the Herald will succeed in promoting 
the discussion of this question, so urgent today, among the 
British, Americans, French, Germans and Italians. Offi- 
cial socialism, represented both by direct supporters of 
"their own" governments, the Plekhanovs, Davids and Co., 
and the undercover defenders of opportunism, the Kautsky- 
ites (among them Axelrod, Martov, Chkheidze and others), 
has told so many lies on this question that for a long time 
there will inevitably be efforts, on the one hand, to maintain 

See pp. 143-56 of this volume.— Ed. 



silence and evade the issue, and, on the other, workers' 
demands for "direct answers" to these "accursed questions". 
We shall try to keep our readers informed of the struggle 
between the trends among socialists abroad. 

This question is of specific importance to us Russian 
Social-Democrats; the present discussion is a continuation 
of the one that took place in 1903 and 1913 102 ; during the 
war this question has been the cause of some wavering in the 
thinking of Party members; it has been made more acute 
by the trickery of such prominent leaders of the Gvozdyov 
or chauvinist workers' party as Martov and Chkheidze, 
in their efforts to evade the substance of the problem. It is 
essential, therefore, to sum up at least the initial results 
of the discussion that has been started in the international 

It will be seen from the theses that our Polish comrades 
provide us with a direct answer to some of our arguments, 
for example, on Marxism and Proudhonism. In most cases, 
however, they do not answer us directly, but indirectly, 
by opposing their assertions to ours. Let us examine both 
their direct and indirect answers. 


We have affirmed that it would be a betrayal of socialism 
to refuse to implement the self-determination of nations 
under socialism. We are told in reply that "the right 
of self-determination is not applicable to a socialist 
society". The difference is a radical one. Where does it stem 

"We know," runs our opponents' reasoning, "that social- 
ism will abolish every kind of national oppression since it 

abolishes the class interests that lead to it " What has 

this argument about the economic prerequisites for the 
abolition of national oppression, which are very well known 
and undisputed, to do with a discussion of one of the forms 
of political oppression, namely, the forcible retention of 
one nation within the state frontiers of another? This is 
nothing but an attempt to evade political questions! And 



subsequent arguments further convince us that our judge- 
ment is right: "We have no reason to believe that in a 
socialist society, the nation will exist as an economic and 
political unit. It will in all probability assume the 
character of a cultural and linguistic unit only, because the 
territorial division of a socialist cultural zone, if prac- 
tised at all, can be made only according to the needs of pro- 
duction and, furthermore, the question of such a division 
will naturally not be decided by individual nations alone 
and in possession of full sovereignty [as is required by "the 
right to self-determination"], but will be determined jointly 
by all the citizens concerned...." 

Our Polish comrades like this last argument, on joint 
determination instead of se//"-determination, so much that 
they repeat it three times in their theses! Frequency of 
repetition, however, does not turn this Octobrist and 
reactionary argument into a Social-Democratic argument. All 
reactionaries and bourgeois grant to nations forcibly retained 
within the frontiers of a given state the right to "deter- 
mine jointly" their fate in a common parliament. Wilhelm II 
also gives the Belgians the right to "determine jointly" 
the fate of the German Empire in a common German par- 

Our opponents try to evade precisely the point at issue, 
the only one that is up for discussion — the right to secede. 
This would be funny if it were not so tragic! 

Our very first thesis said that the liberation of oppressed 
nations implies a dual transformation in the political 
sphere: (1) the full equality of nations. This is not disputed 
and applies only to what takes place within the state; 
(2) freedom of political separation.* This refers to the 
demarcation of state frontiers. This only is disputed. But it 
is precisely this that our opponents remain silent about. 
They do not want to think either about state frontiers or 
even about the state as such. This is a sort of "imperialist 
Economism" like the old Economism of 1894-1902, which 
argued in this way: capitalism is victorious, therefore 
political questions are a waste of time. Imperialism is 

See p. 143 of this volume.— Ed. 


victorious, therefore political questions are a waste of 
time! Such an apolitical theory is extremely harmful to 

In his Critique of the Gotha Programme, Marx wrote: "Be- 
tween capitalist and communist society lies the period of the 
revolutionary transformation of the one into the other. 
There corresponds to this also a political transition period 
in which the state can be nothing but the revolutionary dic- 
tatorship of the proletariat." 103 Up to now this truth has 
been indisputable for socialists and it includes the recog- 
nition of the fact that the state will exist until victorious 
socialism develops into full communism. Engels's dictum 
about the withering away of the state is well known. We 
deliberately stressed, in the first thesis, that democracy 
is a form of state that will also wither away when the state 
withers away. And until our opponents replace Marxism 
by some sort of "non-state" viewpoint their arguments will 
constitute one big mistake. 

Instead of speaking about the state (which means, about 
the demarcation of its frontiersl), they speak of a "socialist 
cultural zone", i.e., they deliberately choose an expression 
that is indefinite in the sense that all state questions are 
obliterated! Thus we get a ridiculous tautology: if there is 
no state there can, of course, be no question of frontiers. 
In that case the whole democratic-political programme is 
unnecessary. Nor will there be any republic, when the state 
"withers away". 

The German chauvinist Lensch, in the articles we men- 
tioned in Thesis 5 (footnote),* quoted an interesting passage 
from Engels's article "The Po and the Rhine". Amongst 
other things, Engels says in this article that in the course 
of historical development, which swallowed up a number of 
small and non-viable nations, the "frontiers of great and 
viable European nations" were being increasingly deter- 
mined by the "language and sympathies" of the population. 
Engels calls these frontiers "natural". 104 Such was the case 
in the period of progressive capitalism in Europe, roughly 
from 1848 to 1871. Today, these democratically determined 

See p. 150 of this volume. — Ed. 



frontiers are more and more often being broken down by 
reactionary, imperialist capitalism. There is every sign 
that imperialism will leave its successor, socialism, a heri- 
tage of less democratic frontiers, a number of annexations in 
Europe and in other parts of the world. Is it to be supposed 
that victorious socialism, restoring and implementing full 
democracy all along the line, will refrain from democrati- 
cally demarcating state frontiers and ignore the "sympa- 
thies" of the population? These questions need only be stated 
to make it quite clear that our Polish colleagues are sliding 
down from Marxism towards imperialist Economism. 

The old Economists, who made a caricature of Marxism, 
told the workers that "only the economic" was of importance 
to Marxists. The new Economists seem to think either that 
the democratic state of victorious socialism will exist with- 
out frontiers (like a "complex of sensations" without matter) 
or that frontiers will be delineated "only" in accordance 
with the needs of production. In actual fact its frontiers 
will be delineated democratically, i.e., in accordance with 
the will and "sympathies" of the population. Capitalism 
rides roughshod over these sympathies, adding more obsta- 
cles to the rapprochement of nations. Socialism, by organis- 
ing production without class oppression, by ensuring the 
well-being of all members of the state, gives full play to the 
"sympathies" of the population, thereby promoting and 
greatly accelerating the drawing together and fusion of 
the nations. 

To give the reader a rest from the heavy and clumsy 
Economism let us quote the reasoning of a socialist writer 
who is outside our dispute. That writer is Otto Bauer, who 
also has his own "pet little point" — "cultural and national 
autonomy" — but who argues quite correctly on a large number 
of most important questions. For example, in Chapter 29 
of his book The National Question and Social-Democracy , 
he was doubly right in noting the use of national ideology 
to cover up imperialist policies. In Chapter 30, "Socialism 
and the Principle of Nationality", he says: 

"The socialist community will never be able to include 
whole nations within its make-up by the use of force. 
Imagine the masses of the people, enjoying all the blessings 
of national culture, taking a full and active part in legisla- 


tion and government, and, finally, supplied with arms — 
would it be possible to subordinate such a nation to the rule 
of an alien social organism by force? All state power rests 
on the force of arms. The present-day people's army, thanks 
to an ingenious mechanism, still constitutes a tool in the 
hands of a definite person, family or class exactly like the 
knightly and mercenary armies of the past. The army of 
the democratic community of a socialist society is nothing 
but the people armed, since it consists of highly cultured 
persons, working without compulsion in socialised work- 
shops and taking full part in all spheres of political life. 
In such conditions any possibility of alien rule disappears." 

This is true. It is impossible to abolish national (or any 
other political) oppression under capitalism, since this 
requires the abolition of classes, i.e., the introduction of 
socialism. But while being based on economics, socialism 
cannot be reduced to economics alone. A foundation — social- 
ist production — is essential for the abolition of national 
oppression, but this foundation must also carry a democrat- 
ically organised state, a democratic army, etc. By trans- 
forming capitalism into socialism the proletariat creates 
the possibility of abolishing national oppression; the possi- 
bility becomes reality "only" — "only"! — with the establish- 
ment of full democracy in all spheres, including the delin- 
eation of state frontiers in accordance with the "sympathies" 
of the population, including complete freedom to secede. 
And this, in turn, will serve as a basis for developing 
the practical elimination of even the slightest national 
friction and the least national mistrust, for an accelerated 
drawing together and fusion of nations that will be complet- 
ed when the state withers away. This is the Marxist theory, 
the theory from which our Polish colleagues have mis- 
takenly departed. 


The old polemic conducted by Polish Social-Democrats 
against the self-determination of nations is based entirely 
on the argument that it is "impracticable" under capitalism. 
As long ago as 1903 we, the Iskra supporters, laughed at 
this argument in the Programme Commission of the Second 



Congress of the R.S.D.L.P., and said that it was a 
repetition of the distortion of Marxism preached by the 
(late lamented) Economists. In our theses we dealt with 
this error in particular detail and it is precisely on this 
point, which contains the theoretical kernel of the whole 
dispute, that the Polish comrades did not wish to (or could 
not?) answer any of our arguments. 

To prove the economic impossibility of self-determination 
would require an economic analysis such as that used to 
prove the impracticability of prohibiting machines or intro- 
ducing labour-money, etc. No one has even attempted to 
make such an analysis. No one will maintain that it has 
been possible to introduce "labour-money" under capitalism 
"by way of exception" in even one country, in the way it 
was possible for one small country to realise this impracti- 
cable self-determination, even without war or revolution, 
"by way of exception", in the era of the most rabid imperial- 
ism (Norway, 1905). 

In general, political democracy is merely one of the 
possible forms of superstructure above capitalism (although 
it is theoretically the normal one for "pure" capitalism). 
The facts show that both capitalism and imperialism develop 
within the framework of any political form and subordinate 
them all. It is, therefore, a basic theoretical error to speak of 
the "impracticability" of one of the forms and of one of the 
demands of democracy. 

The absence of an answer to these arguments from our 
Polish colleagues compels us to consider the discussion 
closed on this point. To make it graphic, so to say, we made 
the very concrete assertion that it would be "ridiculous" 
to deny the "practicability" of the restoration of Poland 
today, making it dependent on the strategic and other 
aspects of the present war. No reply was forthcoming! 

The Polish comrades simply repeated an obviously incor- 
rect assertion (§11, 1), saying that "in questions of the 
annexation of foreign territories, forms of political democ- 
racy are pushed aside; sheer force is decisive.... Capital 
will never allow the people to decide the question of their 
state frontiers...". As though "capital" could "allow the 
people" to select its civil servants, the servants of imperial- 
ism! Or as though weighty decisions on important demo- 


cratic questions, such as the establishment of a republic 
in place of a monarchy, or a militia in place of a regular 
army, were, in general, conceivable without "sheer force". 
Subjectively, the Polish comrades want to make Marxism 
"more profound" but they are doing it altogether unsuccess- 
fully. Objectively, their phrases about impracticability are 
opportunism, because their tacit assumption is: this is 
"impracticable" without a series of revolutions, in the same 
way as democracy as a whole, all its demands taken together, 
is impracticable under imperialism. 

Once only, at the very end of §11, 1, in the discussion on 
Alsace, our Polish colleagues abandoned the position of 
imperialist Economism and approached the question of 
one of the forms of democracy with a concrete answer and 
not with general references to the "economic". And it was 
precisely this approach that was wrong! It would, they 
wrote, be "particularism undemocratic" if some Alsatians, 
without asking the French, were to "impose" on them a union 
with Alsace, although part of Alsace was German-oriented 
and this threatened war!!! The confusion is amusing: self- 
determination presumes (this is in itself clear, and we have 
given it special emphasis in our theses) freedom to separate 
from the oppressor state; but the fact that union with a 
state presumes the consent of that state is something that is 
"not customarily" mentioned in politics any more than the 
"consent" of a capitalist to receive profit or of a worker to 
receive wages is mentioned in economics! It is ridiculous 
even to speak of such a thing. 

If one wants to be a Marxist politician, one should, in 
speaking of Alsace, attack the German socialist scoundrels 
for not fighting for Alsace's freedom to secede and attack 
the French socialist scoundrels for making their peace with 
the French bourgeoisie who want to annex the whole of 
Alsace by force — and both of them for serving the imperial- 
ism of "their own" country and for fearing a separate state, 
even if only a little one — the thing is to show how the social- 
ists who recognise self-determination would solve the prob- 
lem in a few weeks without going against the will of the 
Alsatians. To argue, instead, about the horrible danger of 
the French Alsatians "forcing" themselves on France is a 
real pearl. 




We raised this question in a most definite manner in 
our theses (Section 7).* The Polish comrades did not reply 
to it: they evaded it, insisting (1) that they are against 
annexations and explaining (2) why they are against them. 
It is true that these are very important questions. But they 
are questions of another kind. If we want our principles to 
be theoretically sound at all, if we want them to be clearly 
and precisely formulated, we cannot evade the question of 
what an annexation is, since this concept is used in our 
political propaganda and agitation. The evasion of the 
question in a discussion between colleagues cannot be 
interpreted as anything but desertion of one's position. 

Why have we raised this question? We explained this 
when we raised it. It is because "a protest against annexa- 
tions is nothing but recognition of the right to self-deter- 
mination". The concept of annexation usually includes: 
(1) the concept of force (joining by means of force); (2) the 
concept of oppression by another nation (the joining of 
"alien" regions, etc.), and, sometimes (3) the concept of 
violation of the status quo. We pointed this out in the 
theses and this did not meet with any criticism. 

Can Social-Democrats be against the use of force in gen- 
eral, it may be asked? Obviously not. This means that we 
are against annexations not because they constitute force, 
but for some other reason. Nor can the Social-Democrats be 
for the status quo. However you may twist and turn, annexa- 
tion is violation of the self-determination of a nation, it 
is the establishment of state frontiers contrary to the will 
of the population. 

To be against annexations means to be in favour of the 
right to self-determination. To be "against the forcible 
retention of any nation within the frontiers of a given 
state" (we deliberately employed this slightly changed 
formulation of the same idea in Section 4 of our theses,** 
and the Polish comrades answered us with complete clarity 
at the beginning of their §1, 4, that they "are against the 

* See pp. 152-53 of this volume.— Ed. 
**See p. 147 of this volume.— Ed. 


forcible retention of oppressed nations within the frontiers 
of the annexing state") — is the same as being in favour of 
the self-determination of nations. 

We do not want to haggle over words. If there is a party 
that says in its programme (or in a resolution binding on 
all — the form does not matter) that it is against annexa- 
tions,* against the forcible retention of oppressed nations 
within the frontiers of its state, we declare our complete 
agreement in principle with that party. It would be absurd 
to insist on the word "self-determination". And if there 
are people in our Party who want to change words in this 
spirit, who want to amend Clause 9 of our Party Programme, 
we should consider our differences with such comrades to be 
anything but a matter of principle! 

The only thing that matters is political clarity and 
theoretical soundness of our slogans. 

In verbal discussions on this question — the importance of 
which nobody will deny, especially now, in view of the 
war — we have met the following argument (we have not 
come across it in the press): a protest against a known evil 
does not necessarily mean recognition of a positive concept 
that precludes the evil. This is obviously an unfounded 
argument and, apparently, as such has not been reproduced 
in the press. If a socialist party declares that it is "against 
the forcible retention of an oppressed nation within the 
frontiers of the annexing state", it is thereby committed to 
renounce retention by force when it comes to power. 

We do not for one moment doubt that if Hindenburg were 
to accomplish the semi-conquest of Russia tomorrow and 
this semi-conquest were to be expressed by the appearance 
of a new Polish state (in connection with the desire of 
Britain and France to weaken tsarism somewhat), something 
that is quite "practicable" from the standpoint of the econom- 
ic laws of capitalism and imperialism, and if, the day 
after tomorrow, the socialist revolution were to be victo- 
rious in Petrograd, Berlin and Warsaw, the Polish socialist 
government, like the Russian and German socialist govern- 
ments, would renounce the "forcible retention" of, say, the, 

* Karl Radek formulated this as "against old and new annexa- 
tions" in one of his articles in Berner Tagwacht. 



Ukrainians, "within the frontiers of the Polish state". If 
there were members of the Gazeta Robotnicza Editorial 
Board in that government they would no doubt sacrifice 
their "theses", thereby disproving the "theory" that "the 
right of self-determination is not applicable to a socialist 
society". If we thought otherwise we should not put a com- 
radely discussion with the Polish Social-Democrats on the 
agenda but would rather conduct a ruthless struggle against 
them as chauvinists. 

Suppose I were to go out into the streets of any European 
city and make a public "protest", which I then published 
in the press, against my not being permitted to purchase 
a man as a slave. There is no doubt that people would have 
the right to regard me as a slave-owner, a champion of the 
principle, or system, if you like of slavery. No one would 
be fooled by the fact that my sympathies with slavery were 
expressed in the negative form of a protest and not in a 
positive form ("I am for slavery"). A political "protest" 
is quite the equivalent of a political programme; this is 
so obvious that one feels rather awkward at having to ex- 
plain it. In any case, we are firmly convinced that on the 
part of the Zimmerwald Left, at any rate — we do not speak 
of the Zimmerwald group as a whole since it contains Martov 
and other Kautskyites — we shall not meet with any "pro- 
test" if we say that in the Third International there will be 
no place for people capable of separating a political protest 
from a political programme, of counterposing the one to 
the other, etc. 

Not wishing to haggle over words, we take the liberty 
of expressing the sincere hope that the Polish Social-Demo- 
crats will try soon to formulate, officially, their proposal 
to delete Clause 9 from our Party Programme (which is 
also theirs) and also from the Programme of the International 
(the resolution of the 1896 London Congress), as well as 
their own definition of the relevant political concepts of 
"old and new annexations" and of "the forcible retention of 
an oppressed nation within the frontiers of the annexing 

Let us now turn to the next question. 




In §3 of Part One of their theses the Polish comrades 
declare very definitely that they are against any kind of 
annexation. Unfortunately, in §4 of the same part we 
find an assertion that must be considered annexationist. It 
opens with the following ... how can it be put more deli- 
cately?... the following strange phrase: 

"The starting-point of Social-Democracy's struggle against 
annexations, against the forcible retention of oppressed 
nations within the frontiers of the annexing state is renun- 
ciation of any defence of the fatherland [the authors' ital- 
ics], which, in the era of imperialism, is defence of the 
rights of one's own bourgeoisie to oppress and plunder 
foreign peoples...." 

What's this? How is it put? 

"The starting-point of the struggle against annexations 

is renunciation of any defence of the fatherland " But 

any national war and any national revolt can be called 
"defence of the fatherland" and, until now, has been gener- 
ally recognised as such! We are against annexations, but ... 
we mean by this that we are against the annexed waging a 
war for their liberation from those who have annexed them, 
that we are against the annexed revolting to liberate them- 
selves from those who have annexed them! Isn't that an 
annexationist declaration? 

The authors of the theses motivate their ... strange asser- 
tion by saying that "in the era of imperialism" defence of 
the fatherland amounts to defence of the right of one's 
own bourgeoisie to oppress foreign peoples. This, how- 
ever, is true only in respect of an imperialist war, 
i.e., in respect of a war between imperialist powers 
or groups of powers, when both belligerents not only 
oppress "foreign peoples" but are fighting a war to 
decide who shall have a greater share in oppressing foreign 

The authors seem to present the question of "defence of 
the fatherland" very differently from the way it is presented 
by our Party. We renounce "defence of the fatherland" in 
an imperialist war. This is said as clearly as it can be in 
the Manifesto of our Party's Central Committee and in 



the Berne resolutions* reprinted in the pamphlet Socialism 
and War, which has been published both in German and 
French. We stressed this twice in our theses (footnotes to 
Sections 4 and 6).** The authors of the Polish theses seem 
to renounce defence of the fatherland in general, i.e., 
for a national war as well, believing, perhaps, that in the 
"era of imperialism" national wars are impossible. We say 
"perhaps" because the Polish comrades have not expressed 
this view in their theses. 

Such a view is clearly expressed in the theses of the 
German Internationale group and in the Junius pamphlet 
which is dealt with in a special article.*** In addition 
to what is said there, let us note that the national revolt 
of an annexed region or country against the annexing country 
may be called precisely a revolt and not a war (we have 
heard this objection made and, therefore, cite it here, 
although we do not think this terminological dispute a serious 
one). In any case, hardly anybody would risk denying that 
annexed Belgium, Serbia, Galicia and Armenia would call 
their "revolt" against those who annexed them "defence of 
the fatherland" and would do so in all justice. It looks as 
if the Polish comrades are against this type of revolt on the 
grounds that there is also a bourgeoisie in these annexed 
countries which also oppresses foreign peoples or, more 
exactly, could oppress them, since the question is one of the 
"right to oppress". Consequently, the given war or revolt is 
not assessed on the strength of its real social content (the 
struggle of an oppressed nation for its liberation from the 
oppressor nation) but the possible exercise of the "right 
to oppress" by a bourgeoisie which is at present itself 
oppressed. If Belgium, let us say, is annexed by Germany in 
1917, and in 1918 revolts to secure her liberation, the 
Polish comrades will be against her revolt on the grounds 
that the Belgian bourgeoisie possess "the right to oppress 
foreign peoples"! 

* See present edition, Vol. 21, "The War and Russian 
Social-Democracy", "The Conference of the R.S.D.L.P. Groups 
Abroad".— Ed. 

**See pp. 148 and 151 of this volume.— Ed. 
***See p. 305 of this volume.— Ed. 


There is nothing Marxist or even revolutionary in this 
argument. If we do not want to betray socialism we must 
support every revolt against our chief enemy, the bour- 
geoisie of the big states, provided it is not the revolt of a 
reactionary class. By refusing to support the revolt of 
annexed regions we become, objectively, annexationists. 
It is precisely in the "era of imperialism", which is the era 
of nascent social revolution, that the proletariat will 
today give especially vigorous support to any revolt of 
the annexed regions so that tomorrow, or simultaneously, 
it may attack the bourgeoisie of the "great" power that is 
weakened by the revolt. 

The Polish comrades, however, go further in their 
annexationism. They are not only against any revolt by the 
annexed regions; they are against any restoration of their in- 
dependence, even a peaceful one! Listen to this: 

"Social-Democracy, rejecting all responsibility for the 
consequences of the policy of oppression pursued by imperial- 
ism, and conducting the sharpest struggle against them, 
does not by any means favour the erection of new frontier 
posts in Europe or the re-erection of those swept away by 
imperialism" (the authors' italics). 

Today "imperialism has swept away the frontier posts" 
between Germany and Belgium and between Russia and 
Galicia. International Social-Democracy, if you please, 
ought to be against their re-erection in general, whatever 
the means. In 1905, "in the era of imperialism", when 
Norway's autonomous Diet proclaimed her secession from 
Sweden, and Sweden's war against Norway, as preached by 
the Swedish reactionaries, did not take place, what with 
the resistance of the Swedish workers and the international 
imperialist situation — Social-Democracy ought to have been 
against Norway's secession, since it undoubtedly meant 
"the erection of new frontier posts in Europe"!! 

This is downright annexationism. There is no need to 
refute it because it refutes itself. No socialist party would 
risk taking this stand: "We oppose annexations in general 
but we sanction annexations for Europe or tolerate them 
once they have been made".... 

We need deal only with the theoretical sources of the 
error that has led our Polish comrades to such a patent ... 



"impossibility". We shall say further on why there is no 
reason to make exceptions for "Europe". The following two 
phrases from the theses will explain the other sources of 
the error: 

"Wherever the wheel of imperialism has rolled over and 
crushed an already formed capitalist state, the political 
and economic concentration of the capitalist world, paving 
the way for socialism, takes place in the brutal form of 
imperialist oppression...." 

This justification of annexations is not Marxism but 
Struveism. Russian Social-Democrats who remember the 
1890s in Russia have a good knowledge of this manner of 
distorting Marxism, which is common to Struve, Cunow, 
Legien and Co. In another of the theses (II, 3) of the Polish 
comrades we read the following, specifically about the 
German Struvists, the so-called "social-imperialists": 

(The slogan of self-determination) "provides the social- 
imperialists with an opportunity, by demonstrating the 
illusory nature of that slogan, to represent our struggle 
against national oppression as historically unfounded 
sentimentality, thereby undermining the faith of the 
proletariat in the scientific validity of the Social-Democratic 

This means that the authors consider the position of the 
German Struveists "scientific"! Our congratulations. 

One "trifle", however, brings down this amazing argument 
which threatens to show that the Lensches, Cunows and 
Parvuses are right in comparison to us: it is that the 
Lensches are consistent people in their own way and in issue 
No. 8-9 of the chauvinist German Glocke — we deliberately 
quoted it in our theses — Lensch demonstrates simultaneously 
both the "scientific invalidity" of the self-determination 
slogan (the Polish Social-Democrats apparently believe 
that this argument of Lensch's is irrefutable, as can be seen 
from their arguments in the theses we have quoted) and 
the "scientific invalidity" of the slogan against annexations! 

For Lensch had an excellent understanding of that simple 
truth which we pointed out to those Polish colleagues who 
showed no desire to reply to our statement: there is no 
difference "either political or economic", or even logical, 
between the "recognition" of self-determination and the 


"protest" against annexations. If the Polish comrades 
regard the arguments of the Lensches against self-determina- 
tion to be irrefutable, there is one fact that has to be accepted: 
the Lensches also use all these arguments to oppose the 
struggle against annexations. 

The theoretical error that underlies all the arguments 
of our Polish colleagues has led them to the point of 
becoming inconsistent annexationists. 


In our view the answer is obvious: because annexation 
violates the self-determination of nations, or, in other 
words, is a form of national oppression. 

In the view of the Polish Social-Democrats there have to 
be special explanations of why we are against annexations, 
and it is these (I, 3 in the theses) that inevitably enmesh 
the authors in a further series of contradictions. 

They produce two reasons to "justify" our opposition to 
annexations (the "scientifically valid" arguments of the 
Lensches notwithstanding): 

First: "To the assertion that annexations in Europe are 
essential for the military security of a victorious imperialist 
state, the Social-Democrats counterpose the fact that annexa- 
tions only serve to sharpen antagonisms, thereby increas- 
ing the danger of war...." 

This is an inadequate reply to the Lensches because 
their chief argument is not that annexations are a military 
necessity but that they are economically progressive and 
under imperialism mean concentration. Where is the logic 
if the Polish Social-Democrats in the same breath recognise 
the progressive nature of such a concentration, refusing to 
re-erect frontier posts in Europe that have been swept away 
by imperialism, and protest against annexations? 

Furthermore, the danger of what wars is increased by 
annexations? Not imperialist wars, because they have other 
causes; the chief antagonisms in the present imperialist war 
are undoubtedly those between Germany and Britain, and 
between Germany and Russia. These antagonisms have 
nothing to do with annexations. It is the danger of national 



wars and national revolts that is increased. But how can 
one declare national wars to be impossible in "the era of 
imperialism", on the one hand, and then speak of the "dan- 
ger" of national wars, on the other? This is not logical. 

The second argument: Annexations "create a gulf between 
the proletariat of the ruling nation and that of the oppressed 
nation ... the proletariat of the oppressed nation would 
unite with its bourgeoisie and regard the proletariat of the 
ruling nation as its enemy. Instead of the proletariat waging 
an international class struggle against the international 
bourgeoisie it would be split and ideologically corrupted...." 

We fully agree with these arguments. But is it logical to 
put forward simultaneously two arguments on the same 
question which cancel each other out. In §3 of the first 
part of the theses we find the above arguments that 
regard annexations as causing a split in the proletariat, 
and next to it, in §4, we are told that we must oppose the 
annulment of annexations already effected in Europe and 
favour "the education of the working masses of the oppressed 
and the oppressor nations in a spirit of solidarity in struggle". 
If the annulment of annexations is reactionary "sentimen- 
tality", annexations must not be said to create a "gulf" 
between sections of the "proletariat" and cause a "split", 
but should, on the contrary, be regarded as a condition for 
the bringing together of the proletariat of different nations. 

We say: In order that we may have the strength to 
accomplish the socialist revolution and overthrow the bour- 
geoisie, the workers must unite more closely and this close 
union is promoted by the struggle for self-determination, 
i.e., the struggle against annexations. We are consistent. 
But the Polish comrades who say that European annexations 
are "non-annullable" and national wars, "impossible", defeat 
themselves by contending "against" annexations with the 
use of arguments about national wars! These arguments 
are to the effect that annexations hamper the drawing 
together and fusion of workers of different nations! 

In other words, the Polish Social-Democrats, in order to 
contend against annexations, have to draw for arguments on 
the theoretical stock they themselves reject in principle. 

The question of colonies makes this even more obvious. 



Our theses say that the demand for the immediate libera- 
tion of the colonies is as "impracticable" (that is, it cannot be 
effected without a number of revolutions and is not stable 
without socialism) under capitalism as the self-determina- 
tion of nations, the election of civil servants by the people, 
the democratic republic, and so on — and, furthermore, 
that the demand for the liberation of the colonies is nothing 
more than "the recognition of the right of nations to self- 

The Polish comrades have not answered a single one of 
these arguments. They have tried to differentiate between 
"Europe" and the colonies. For Europe alone they become 
inconsistent annexationists by refusing to annul any annexa- 
tions once these have been made. As for the colonies, they 
demand unconditionally: "Get out of the colonies!" 

Russian socialists must put forward the demand: "Get 
out of Turkestan, Khiva, Bukhara, etc.", but, it is alleged, 
they would be guilty of "utopianism", "unscientific sen- 
timentality" and so on if they demanded a similar freedom 
of secession for Poland, Finland, the Ukraine, etc. British 
socialists must demand: "Get out of Africa, India, Australia", 
but not out of Ireland. What are the theoretical grounds 
for a distinction that is so patently false? This question 
cannot be evaded. 

The chief "ground" of those opposed to self-determination 
is its "impracticability?". The same idea, with a nuance, is 
expressed in the reference to "economic and political con- 

Obviously, concentration also comes about with the 
annexation of colonies. There was formerly an economic dis- 
tinction between the colonies and the European peoples — 
at least, the majority of the latter — the colonies having 
been drawn into commodity exchange but not into capitalist 
production. Imperialism changed this. Imperialism is, 
among other things, the export of capital. Capitalist pro- 
duction is being transplanted to the colonies at an ever 
increasing rate. They cannot be extricated from dependence 
on European finance capital. From the military standpoint, 



as well as from the standpoint of expansion, the separation 
of the colonies is practicable, as a general rule, only under 
socialism; under capitalism it is practicable only by 
way of exception or at the cost of a series of revolts and 
revolutions both in the colonies and the metropolitan 

The greater part of the dependent nations in Europe are 
capitalistically more developed than the colonies (though 
not all, the exceptions being the Albanians and many 
non-Russian peoples in Russia). But it is just this that 
generates greater resistance to national oppression and 
annexations! Precisely because of this, the development of 
capitalism is more secure in Europe under any political 
conditions, including those of separation, than in the colo- 
nies "There," the Polish comrades say about the colonies 

(I, 4), "capitalism is still confronted with the task of devel- 
oping the productive forces independently...." This is even 
more noticeable in Europe: capitalism is undoubtedly devel- 
oping the productive forces more vigorously, rapidly and 
independently in Poland, Finland, the Ukraine and Alsace 
than in India, Turkestan, Egypt and other straightforward 
colonies. In a commodity-producing society, no independent 
development, or development of any sort whatsoever, is 
possible without capital. In Europe the dependent nations 
have both their own capital and easy access to it on a wide 
range of terms. The colonies have no capital of their own, 
or none to speak of, and under finance capital no colony 
can obtain any except on terms of political submission. 
What then, in face of all this, is the significance of the demand 
to liberate the colonies immediately and unconditionally? 
Is it not clear that it is more "utopian" in the vulgar, cari- 
cature-"Marxist" sense of the word, "utopian", in the sense 
in which it is used by the Struves, Lensches, Cunows, 
with the Polish comrades unfortunately following in their 
footsteps? Any deviation from the ordinary, the commonplace, 
as well as everything that is revolutionary, is here 
labelled "utopianism", But revolutionary movements of 
all kinds — including national movements — are more pos- 
sible, more practicable, more stubborn, more conscious and 
more difficult to defeat in Europe than they are in the 


Socialism, say the Polish comrades (I, 3), "will be able 
to give the underdeveloped peoples of the colonies unsel- 
fish cultural aid without ruling over them". This is perfectly 
true. But what grounds are there for supposing that a great 
nation, a great state that goes over to socialism, will not 
be able to attract a small, oppressed European nation by 
means of "unselfish cultural aid"? It is the freedom to secede 
"granted" to the colonies by the Polish Social-Democrats 
that will attract the small but cultured and politically 
exacting oppressed nations of Europe to union with great 
socialist states, because under socialism a great state will 
mean so many hours less work a day and so much more pay 
a day. The masses of working people, as they liberate them- 
selves from the bourgeois yoke, will gravitate irresistibly 
towards union and integration with the great, advanced 
socialist nations for the sake of that "cultural aid", provided 
yesterday's oppressors do not infringe on the long-oppressed 
nations' highly developed democratic feeling of self-respect, 
and provided they are granted equality in everything, 
including state construction, that is, experience in organ- 
ising "their own" state. Under capitalism this "experience" 
means war, isolation, seclusion, and the narrow egoism of 
the small privileged nations (Holland, Switzerland). Under 
socialism the working people themselves will nowhere 
consent to seclusion merely for the above-mentioned purely 
economic motives, while the variety of political forms, 
freedom to secede, and experience in state organisation — 
there will be all this until the state in all its forms withers 
away — will be the basis of a prosperous cultured life and 
an earnest that the nations will draw closer together and 
integrate at an ever faster pace. 

By setting the colonies aside and contrasting them to 
Europe the Polish comrades step into a contradiction which 
immediately brings down the whole of their fallacious 


By way of an exception, our Polish comrades parry our 
reference to Marx's attitude towards the separation of 
Ireland directly and not indirectly. What is their objection? 



References to Marx's position from 1848 to 1871, 
they say, are "not of the slightest value". The argument 
advanced in support of this unusually irate and peremptory 
assertion is that "at one and the same time" Marx opposed the 
strivings for independence of the "Czechs, South Slavs, 
etc." 105 

The argument is so very irate because it is so very unsound. 
According to the Polish Marxists, Marx was simply a 
muddlehead who "in one breath" said contradictory things! 
This is altogether untrue, and it is certainly not Marxism. 
It is precisely the demand for "concrete" analysis, which 
our Polish comrades insist on, but do not themselves apply, 
that makes it necessary for us to investigate whether Marx's 
different attitudes towards different concrete "national" 
movements did not spring from one and the same socialist 

Marx is known to have favoured Polish independence in 
the interests of European democracy in its struggle against 
the power and influence — or, it might be said, against the 
omnipotence and predominating reactionary influence — of 
tsarism. That this attitude was correct was most clearly 
and practically demonstrated in 1849, when the Russian 
serf army crushed the national liberation and revolution- 
ary-democratic rebellion in Hungary. From that time 
until Marx's death, and even later, until 1890, when there 
was a danger that tsarism, allied with France, would wage 
a reactionary war against a non-imperialist and nationally 
independent Germany, Engels stood first and foremost for a 
struggle against tsarism. It was for this reason, and exclu- 
sively for this reason, that Marx and Engels were opposed to 
the national movement of the Czechs and South Slavs. 
A simple reference to what Marx and Engels wrote in 1848 
and 1849 will prove to anyone who is interested in Marxism 
in real earnest and not merely for the purpose of brushing 
Marxism aside, that Marx and Engels at that time drew a 
clear and definite distinction between "whole reactionary 
nations" serving as "Russian outposts" in Europe, and 
"revolutionary nations", namely, the Germans, Poles and 
Magyars. This is a fact. And it was indicated at the time 
with incontrovertible truth: in 1848 revolutionary nations 
fought for liberty, whose principal enemy was tsarism, 



whereas the Czechs, etc., were in fact reactionary nations, 
and outposts of tsarism. 

What is the lesson to be drawn from this concrete example 
which must be analysed concretely if there is any desire to 
be true to Marxism? Only this: (1) that the interests of the 
liberation of a number of big and very big nations in Europe 
rate higher than the interests of the movement for liberation 
of small nations; (2) that the demand for democracy must 
not be considered in isolation but on a European — today 
we should say a world — scale. 

That is all there is to it. There is no hint of any repudia- 
tion of that elementary socialist principle which the Poles 
forget but to which Marx was always faithful — that no 
nation can be free if it oppresses other nations. If the con- 
crete situation which confronted Marx when tsarism domi- 
nated international politics were to repeat itself, for instance, 
in the form of a few nations starting a socialist revolution 
(as a bourgeois-democratic revolution was started in Europe 
in 1848), and other nations serving as the chief bulwarks of 
bourgeois reaction — then we too would have to be in favour 
of a revolutionary war against the latter, in favour of 
"crushing" them, in favour of destroying all their outposts, no 
matter what small-nation movements arose in them. Con- 
sequently, instead of rejecting any examples of Marx's 
tactics — this would mean professing Marxism while aban- 
doning it in practice — we must analyse them concretely and 
draw invaluable lessons for the future. The several demands 
of democracy, including self-determination, are not an 
absolute, but only a small part of the general-democratic 
(now: general-socialist) world movement. In individual 
concrete cases, the part may contradict the whole; if so, it 
must be rejected. It is possible that the republican movement 
in one country may be merely an instrument of the clerical 
or financial-monarchist intrigues of other countries; if so, 
we must not support this particular, concrete movement, 
but it would be ridiculous to delete the demand for a repub- 
lic from the programme of international Social-Democracy 
on these grounds. 

In what way has the concrete situation changed between 
the periods of 1848-71 and 1898-1916 (I take the most 
important landmarks of imperialism as a period: from the 



Spanish-American imperialist war to the European imperial- 
ist war)? Tsarism has manifestly and indisputably ceased 
to be the chief mainstay of reaction, first, because it is 
supported by international finance capital, particularly 
French, and, secondly, because of 1905. At that time the 
system of big national states — the democracies of Europe — 
was bringing democracy and socialism to the world in spite 
of tsarism.* Marx and Engels did not live to see the period 
of imperialism. The system now is a handful of imperial- 
ist "Great" Powers (five or six in number), each oppressing 
other nations: and this oppression is a source for artificially 
retarding the collapse of capitalism, and artificially support- 
ing opportunism and social-chauvinism in the imperial- 
ist nations which dominate the world. At that time, West 
European democracy, liberating the big nations, was 
opposed to tsarism, which used certain small-nation move- 
ments for reactionary ends. Today, the socialist proletariat, 
split into chauvinists, "social-imperialists", on the one 
hand, and revolutionaries, on the other, is confronted by an 
alliance of tsarist imperialism and advanced capitalist, 
European, imperialism, which is based on their common 
oppression of a number of nations. 

Such are the concrete changes that have taken place in 
the situation, and it is just these that the Polish Social- 
Democrats ignore, in spite of their promise to be concrete! 
Hence the concrete change in the application of the same 
socialist principles: formerly the main thing was to fight 
"against tsarism" (and against certain small-nation move- 

* Ryazanov has published in Griinberg's Archives of the History 
of Socialism (1916, I) a very interesting article by Engels on the 
Polish question, written in 1866. Engels emphasises that the proletariat 
must recognise the political independence and "self-determination" 
("right to dispose of itself" [These words are in English in the ori- 
ginal. — Ed.]) of the great, major nations of Europe, and points to the 
absurdity of the "principle of nationalities" (particularly in its 
Bonapartist application), i.e., of placing any small nation on the same 
level as these big ones. "And as to Russia," says Engels, "she could 
only be mentioned as the detainer of an immense amount of stolen 
property [i.e., oppressed nations] which would have to be disgorged 
on the day of reckoning." 106 Both Bonapartism and tsarism utilise 
the small-nation movements for their own benefit, against European 


merits that it was using for undemocratic ends), and for 
the greater revolutionary peoples of the West; the main 
thing today is to stand against the united, aligned front of 
the imperialist powers, the imperialist bourgeoisie and the 
social-imperialists, and for the utilisation of all national 
movements against imperialism for the purposes of the 
socialist revolution. The more purely proletarian the struggle 
against the general imperialist front now is, the more vital, 
obviously, is the internationalist principle: "No nation 
can be free if it oppresses other nations". 

In the name of their doctrinaire concept of social revolu- 
tion, the Proudhonists ignored the international role 
of Poland and brushed aside the national movements. 
Equally doctrinaire is the attitude of the Polish Social- 
Democrats, who break up the international front of struggle 
against the social-imperialists, and (objectively) help the 
latter by their vacillations on the question of annexations. 
For it is precisely the international front of proletarian 
struggle that has changed in relation to the concrete position 
of the small nations: at that time (1848-71) the small nations 
were important as the potential allies either of "Western 
democracy" and the revolutionary nations, or of tsarism; 
now (1898-1914) that is no longer so; today they are impor- 
tant as one of the nutritive media of the parasitism and, 
consequently, the social-imperialism of the "dominant 
nations". The important thing is not whether one-fiftieth 
or one-hundredth of the small nations are liberated before 
the socialist revolution, but the fact that in the epoch of 
imperialism, owing to objective causes, the proletariat has 
been split into two international camps, one of which has 
been corrupted by the crumbs that fall from the table of 
the dominant-nation bourgeoisie — obtained, among other 
things, from the double or triple exploitation of small 
nations — while the other cannot liberate itself without 
liberating the small nations, without educating the masses 
in an anti-chauvinist, i.e., anti-annexationist, i.e., "self- 
determinationist", spirit. 

This, the most important aspect of the question; is ignored 
by our Polish comrades, who do not view things from the 
key position in the epoch of imperialism, the standpoint of 
the division of the international proletariat into two camps. 



Here are some other concrete examples of their Prou- 
dhonism: (1) their attitude to the Irish rebellion of 1916, 
of which later; (2) the declaration in the theses (II, 3, end 
of §3) that the slogan of socialist revolution "must not be 
overshadowed by anything". The idea that the slogan of 
socialist revolution can be "overshadowed" by linking it 
up with a consistently revolutionary position on all ques- 
tions, including the national question, is certainly pro- 
foundly anti-Marxist. 

The Polish Social-Democrats consider our programme 
"national-reformist". Compare these two practical propos- 
als: (1) for autonomy (Polish theses, III, 4), and (2) for 
freedom to secede. It is in this, and in this alone, that our 
programmes differ! And is it not clear that it is precisely 
the first programme that is reformist and not the second? 
A reformist change is one which leaves intact the foundations 
of the power of the ruling class and is merely a concession 
leaving its power unimpaired. A revolutionary change 
undermines the foundations of power. A reformist national 
programme does not abolish all the privileges of the ruling 
nation; it does not establish complete equality; it does not 
abolish national oppression in all its forms. An "autonomous" 
nation does not enjoy rights equal to those of the "ruling" 
nation; our Polish comrades could not have failed to notice 
this had they not (like our old Economists) obstinately avoid- 
ed making an analysis of political concepts and categories. 
Until 1905 autonomous Norway, as a part of Sweden, enjoyed 
the widest autonomy, but she was not Sweden's equal. 
Only by her free secession was her equality manifested in 
practice and proved (and let us add in parenthesis that it 
was this free secession that created the basis for a more 
intimate and more democratic association, founded on 
equality of rights). As long as Norway was merely autono- 
mous, the Swedish aristocracy had one additional privi- 
lege; and secession did not "mitigate" this privilege (the 
essence of reformism lies in mitigating an evil and not in 
destroying it), but eliminated it altogether (the principal cri- 
terion of the revolutionary character of a programme). 

Incidentally, autonomy, as a reform, differs in principle 
from freedom to secede, as a revolutionary measure. This is 
unquestionable. But as everyone knows, in practice a reform 


is often merely a step towards revolution. It is autonomy 
that enables a nation forcibly retained within the bounda- 
ries of a given state to crystallise into a nation, to gather, 
assess and organise its forces, and to select the most oppor- 
tune moment for a declaration ... in the "Norwegian" spirit: 
We, the autonomous diet of such-and-such a nation, or of 
such-and-such a territory, declare that the Emperor of all 
the Russias has ceased to be King of Poland, etc. The usual 
"objection" to this is that such questions are decided by 
wars and not by declarations. True: in the vast majority of 
cases they are decided by wars (just as questions of the 
form of government of big states are decided, in the vast 
majority of cases, only by wars and revolutions). However, 
it would do no harm to reflect whether such an "objection" to 
the political programme of a revolutionary party is logical. 
Are we opposed to wars and revolutions for what is just and 
beneficial to the proletariat, for democracy and socialism? 

"But we cannot be in favour of a war between great 
nations, in favour of the slaughter of twenty million people 
for the sake of the problematical liberation of a small 
nation with a population of perhaps ten or twenty millions!" 
Of course not! And it does not mean that we throw complete 
national equality out of our Programme; it means that the 
democratic interests of one country must be subordinated 
to the democratic interests of several and all countries. Let 
us assume that between two great monarchies there is a 
little monarchy whose kinglet is "bound" by blood and other 
ties to the monarchs of both neighbouring countries. Let 
us further assume that the declaration of a republic in the 
little country and the expulsion of its monarch would in 
practice lead to a war between the two neighbouring big 
countries for the restoration of that or another monarch 
in the little country. There is no doubt that all international 
Social-Democracy, as well as the really internationalist 
section of Social-Democracy in the little country, would be 
against substituting a republic for the monarchy in this case. 
The substitution of a republic for a monarchy is not an abso- 
lute, but one of the democratic demands, subordinate to 
the interests of democracy (and still more, of course, to 
those of the socialist proletariat) as a whole. A case like 
this would in all probability not give rise to the slightest 



disagreement among Social-Democrats in any country. But 
if any Social-Democrat were to propose on these grounds 
that the demand for a republic be deleted altogether from 
the programme of international Social-Democracy, he would 
certainly be regarded as quite mad. He would be told that 
after all one must not forget the elementary logical difference 
between the general and the particular. 

This example brings us, from a somewhat different angle, 
to the question of the internationalist education of the 
working class. Can such education — on the necessity and 
urgent importance of which differences of opinion among the 
Zimmerwald Left are inconceivable — be concretely identical 
in great, oppressor nations and in small, oppressed nations, 
in annexing nations and in annexed nations? 

Obviously not. The way to the common goal — complete 
equality, the closest association and the eventual amalga- 
mation of all nations — obviously runs along different routes 
in each concrete case, as, let us say, the way to a point in 
the centre of this page runs left from one edge and right, 
from the opposite edge. If a Social-Democrat from a great, 
oppressing, annexing nation, while advocating the amalga- 
mation of nations in general, were for one moment to forget 
that "his" Nicholas II, "his" Wilhelm, George, Poincare, 
etc., also stand for amalgamation with small nations (by 
means of annexations) — Nicholas II for "amalgamation" 
with Galicia, Wilhelm II for "amalgamation" with Belgium, 
etc. — such a Social-Democrat would be a ridiculous doctri- 
naire in theory and an abettor of imperialism in practice. 

In the internationalist education of the workers of the 
oppressor countries, emphasis must necessarily be laid on 
their advocating freedom for the oppressed countries to 
secede and their fighting for it. Without this there can be 
no internationalism. It is our right and duty to treat every 
Social-Democrat of an oppressor nation who fails to conduct 
such propaganda as a scoundrel and an imperialist. This 
is an absolute demand, even where the chance of secession 
being possible and "practicable" before the introduction of 
socialism is only one in a thousand. 

It is our duty to teach the workers to be "indifferent" 
to national distinctions. There is no doubt about that. 
But it must not be the indifference of the annexationists . 


A member of an oppressor nation must be "indifferent" to 
whether small nations belong to his state or to a neighbouring 
state, or to themselves, according to where their sympathies 
lie: without such "indifference" he is not a Social-Democrat. 
To be an internationalist Social-Democrat one must not 
think only of one's own nation, but place above it the inter- 
ests of all nations, their common liberty and equality. 
Everyone accepts this in "theory" but displays an annexa- 
tionist indifference in practice. There is the root of the evil. 

On the other hand, a Social-Democrat from a small nation 
must emphasise in his agitation the second word of our 
general formula: "voluntary integration" of nations. He 
may, without failing in his duties as an internationalist, 
be in favour of both the political independence of his nation 
and its integration with the neighbouring state of X, Y, Z, 
etc. But in all cases he must fight against small-nation 
narrow-mindedness, seclusion and isolation, consider the 
whole and the general, subordinate the particular to the 
general interest. 

People who have not gone into the question thoroughly 
think that it is "contradictory" for the Social-Democrats 
of oppressor nations to insist on the "freedom to secede", 
while Social-Democrats of oppressed nations insist on the 
"freedom to integrate" . However, a little reflection will 
show that there is not, and cannot be, any other road to 
internationalism and the amalgamation of nations, any 
other road from the given situation to this goal. 

And now we come to the specific position of Dutch and 
Polish Social-Democrats. 


There is not the slightest doubt that the Dutch and 
Polish Marxists who oppose self-determination are among 
the best revolutionary and internationalist elements in 
international Social-Democracy. How can it be then that 
their theoretical arguments as we have seen, are a mass of 
errors? There is not a single correct general argument, 
nothing but imperialist Economism! 



It is not at all due to the especially bad subjective quali- 
ties of the Dutch and Polish comrades but to the specific 
objective conditions in their countries. Both countries are: 
(1) small and helpless in the present-day "system" of great 
powers; (2) both are geographically situated between tre- 
mendously powerful imperialist plunderers engaged in the 
most bitter rivalry with each other (Britain and Germany; 
Germany and Russia); (3) in both there are terribly strong 
memories and traditions of the times when they themselves 
were great powers: Holland was once a colonial power 
greater than England, Poland was more cultured and was 
a stronger great power than Russia and Prussia; (4) to this 
day both retain their privileges consisting in the oppres- 
sion of other peoples: the Dutch bourgeois owns the very 
wealthy Dutch East Indies; the Polish landed proprietor 
oppresses the Ukrainian and Byelorussian peasant; the 
Polish bourgeois, the Jew, etc. 

The particularity comprised in the combination of these 
four points is not to be found in Ireland, Portugal (she 
was at one time annexed to Spain), Alsace, Norway, Fin- 
land, the Ukraine, the Lettish and Byelorussian territories 
or many others. And it is this very peculiarity that is the 
real essence of the matter! When the Dutch and Polish 
Social-Democrats reason against self-determination, using 
general arguments, i.e., those that concern imperialism in 
general, socialism in general, democracy in general, national 
oppression in general, we may truly say that they wallow 
in mistakes. But one has only to discard this obviously 
erroneous shell of general arguments and examine the essence 
of the question from the standpoint of the specific conditions 
obtaining in Holland and Poland for their particular posi- 
tion to become comprehensible and quite legitimate. It may 
be said, without any fear of sounding paradoxical, that 
when the Dutch and Polish Marxists battle against self- 
determination they do not say quite what they mean, or, 
to put it another way, mean quite what they say.* 

* Let us recall that all the Polish Social-Democrats recognised 
self-determination in general in their Zimmerwald declaration, 
although their formulation was slightly different. 


We have already quoted one example in our theses.* 
Gorter is against the self-determination of his own country 
but in favour of self-determination for the Dutch East 
Indies, oppressed as they are by "his" nation! Is it any won- 
der that we see in him a more sincere internationalist and 
a fellow-thinker who is closer to us than those who recognise 
self-determination as verbally and hypocritically as Kautsky 
in Germany, and Trotsky and Martov in Russia? The gener- 
al and fundamental principles of Marxism undoubtedly 
imply the duty to struggle for the freedom to secede for 
nations that are oppressed by "one's own" nation, but they 
certainly do not require the independence specifically of 
Holland to be made a matter of paramount importance — 
Holland, which suffers most from her narrow, callous, sel- 
fish and stultifying seclusion: let the whole world burn, we 
stand aside from it all, "we" are satisfied with our old spoils 
and the rich "left-overs", the Indies, "we" are not concerned 
with anything else! 

Here is another example. Karl Radek, a Polish Social- 
Democrat, who has done particularly great service by his 
determined struggle for internationalism in German 
Social-Democracy since the outbreak of war, made a furious 
attack on self-determination in an article entitled "The 
Right of Nations to Self-Determination" (Lichtstrahlen 101 — 
a Left Radical monthly prohibited by the Prussian censor, 
edited by J. Borchardt — 1915, December 5, Third Year of 
Publication, No. 3). He quotes, incidentally, only Dutch 
and Polish authorities in his support and propounds, amongst 
others, the argument that self-determination fosters the 
idea that "it is allegedly the duty of Social-Democrats to 
support any struggle for independence". 

From the standpoint of general theory this argument is 
outrageous, because it is clearly illogical: first, no democratic 
demand can fail to give rise to abuses, unless the specific 
is subordinated to the general; we are not obliged to support 
either "any" struggle for independence or "any" republican 
or anti-clerical movement. Secondly, no formula for the 
struggle against national oppression can fail to suffer from 

See p. 150 of this volume. — Ed. 



the same "shortcoming". Radek himself in Berner Tagwacht 
used the formula (1915, Issue 253): "Against old and new 
annexations." Any Polish nationalist will legitimately 
"deduce" from this formula: "Poland is an annexment, 
I am against annexations, i.e., I am for the independence 
of Poland." Or I recall Rosa Luxemburg saying in an 
article written in 1908, 108 that the formula: "against national 
oppression" was quite adequate. But any Polish nation- 
alist would say — and quite justly — that annexation is one 
of the forms of national oppression, consequently , etc. 

However, take Poland's specific conditions in place of 
these general arguments: her independence today is "imprac- 
ticable" without wars or revolutions. To be in favour of an 
all-European war merely for the sake of restoring Poland 
is to be a nationalist of the worst sort, and to place the 
interests of a small number of Poles above those of the 
hundreds of millions of people who suffer from war. Such, 
indeed, are the "Fracy" (the Right wing of the P.S.P.) 109 
who are socialists only in word, and compared with whom 
the Polish Social-Democrats are a thousand times right. To 
raise the question of Poland's independence today, with 
the existing alignment of the neighbouring imperialist powers, 
is really to run after a will-o'-the-wisp, plunge into narrow- 
minded nationalism and forget the necessary premise of an 
all-European or at least a Russian and a German revolu- 
tion. To have put forward in 1908-14 freedom of coalition 
in Russia as an independent slogan would also have meant 
running after a will-o'-the-wisp, and would, objectively, 
have helped the Stolypin labour party (now the Potresov- 
Gvozdyov party, which, incidentally, is the same thing). 
But it would be madness to remove freedom of coalition 
in general from the programme of Social-Democracy! 

A third and, perhaps, the most important example. We 
read in the Polish theses (III, end of § 2) that the idea of an 
independent Polish buffer state is opposed on the grounds 
that it is an "inane utopia of small impotent groups. Put 
into effect, it would mean the creation of a tiny fragment of 
a Polish state that would be a military colony of one or 
another group of Great Powers, a plaything of their military 
or economic interests, an area exploited by foreign capital, 
and a battlefield in future wars". This is all very true 



when used as an argument against the slogan of Polish 
independence today, because even a revolution in Poland 
alone would change nothing and would only divert the 
attention of the masses in Poland from the main thing — 
the connection between their struggle and that of the Russian 
and German proletariat. It is not a paradox but a fact that 
today the Polish proletariat as such can help the cause of 
socialism and freedom, including the freedom of Poland, 
only by joint struggle with the proletariat of the neighbour- 
ing countries, against the narrow Polish nationalists. The 
great historical service rendered by the Polish Social-Demo- 
crats in the struggle against the nationalists cannot possibly 
be denied. 

But these same arguments, which are true from the 
standpoint of Poland's specific conditions in the present 
epoch, are manifestly untrue in the general form in which 
they are presented. So long as there are wars, Poland will 
always remain a battlefield in wars between Germany and 
Russia, but this is no argument against greater political 
liberty (and, therefore, against political independence) 
in the periods between wars. The same applies to the 
arguments about exploitation by foreign capital and Poland's 
role as a plaything of foreign interests. The Polish Social- 
Democrats cannot, at the moment, raise the slogan of 
Poland's independence, for the Poles, as proletarian inter- 
nationalists, can do nothing about it without stooping, 
like the "Fracy", to humble servitude to one of the imperi- 
alist monarchies. But it is not indifferent to the Russian 
and German workers whether Poland is independent, or 
they take part in annexing her (and that would mean edu- 
cating the Russian and German workers and peasants in 
the basest turpitude and their consent to play the part 
of executioner of other peoples). 

The situation is, indeed, bewildering, but there is a way 
out in which all participants would remain international- 
ists: the Russian and German Social-Democrats by demand- 
ing for Poland unconditional "freedom to secede"; the 
Polish Social-Democrats by working for the unity of the 
proletarian struggle in both small and big countries without 
putting forward the slogan of Polish independence for the 
given epoch or the given period. 




In his pamphlet Socialism and Colonial Politics (Berlin, 
1907), Kautsky, who was then still a Marxist, published a 
letter written to him by Engels, dated September 12, 1882, 
which is extremely interesting in relation to the question 
under discussion. Here is the principal part of the letter. 

"In my opinion the colonies proper, i.e., the countries 
occupied by a European population — Canada, the Cape, 
Australia — will all become independent; on the other hand, 
the countries inhabited by a native population, which are 
simply subjugated — India, Algeria, the Dutch, Portuguese 
and Spanish possessions — must be taken over for the time 
being by the proletariat and led as rapidly as possible 
towards independence. How this process will develop is 
difficult to say. India will perhaps, indeed very probably, 
make a revolution, and as a proletariat in process of self- 
emancipation cannot conduct any colonial wars, it would 
have to be allowed to run its course; it would not pass off 
without all sorts of destruction, of course, but that sort of 
thing is inseparable from all revolutions. The same might 
also take place elsewhere, e.g., in Algeria and Egypt, 
and would certainly be the best thing for us. We shall have 
enough to do at home. Once Europe is reorganised, and 
North America, that will furnish such colossal power and 
such an example that the semi-civilised countries will of 
themselves follow in their wake; economic needs, if any- 
thing, will see to that. But as to what social and political 
phases these countries will then have to pass through before 
they likewise arrive at socialist organisation, I think we 
today can advance only rather idle hypotheses. One thing 
alone is certain: the victorious proletariat can force no 
blessings of any kind upon any foreign nation without under- 
mining its own victory by so doing. Which of course by no 
means excludes defensive wars of various kinds...." 110 

Engels does not at all suppose that the "economic" 
alone will directly remove all difficulties. An economic 
revolution will be a stimulus to all peoples to strive for 
socialism; but at the same time revolutions — against the 
socialist state — and wars are possible. Politics will inevi- 
tably adapt themselves to the economy, but not immediate- 


ly or smoothly, not simply, not directly. Engels mentions 
as "certain" only one, absolutely internationalist, principle, 
and this he applies to all "foreign nations", i.e., not to 
colonial nations only: to force blessings upon them would 
mean to undermine the victory of the proletariat. 

Just because the proletariat has carried out a social 
revolution it will not become holy and immune from errors 
and weaknesses. But it will be inevitably led to realise 
this truth by possible errors (and selfish interest — attempts 
to saddle others). 

We of the Zimmerwald Left all hold the same conviction 
as Kautsky, for example, held before his desertion of Marx- 
ism for the defence of chauvinism in 1914, namely, that 
the socialist revolution is quite possible in the very near 
future — "any day", as Kautsky himself once put it. National 
antipathies will not disappear so quickly: the hatred — and 
perfectly legitimate hatred — of an oppressed nation for its 
oppressor will last for a while; it will evaporate only after 
the victory of socialism and after the final establishment of 
completely democratic relations between nations. If we 
are to be faithful to socialism we must even now educate the 
masses in the spirit of internationalism, which is impossible 
in oppressor nations without advocating freedom of seces- 
sion for oppressed nations. 


Our theses were written before the outbreak of this 
rebellion, which must be the touchstone of our theoretical 

The views of the opponents of self-determination lead to 
the conclusion that the vitality of small nations oppressed 
by imperialism has already been sapped, that they cannot 
play any role against imperialism, that support of their 
purely national aspirations will lead to nothing, etc. The 
imperialist war of 1914-16 has provided facts which refute 
such conclusions. 

The war proved to be an epoch of crisis for the West- 
European nations, and for imperialism as a whole. Every 
crisis discards the conventionalities, tears away the outer 



wrappings, sweeps away the obsolete and reveals the under- 
lying springs and forces. What has it revealed from the 
standpoint of the movement of oppressed nations? In the 
colonies there have been a number of attempts at rebellion, 
which the oppressor nations, naturally did all they could 
to hide by means of a military censorship. Nevertheless, it is 
known that in Singapore the British brutally suppressed a 
mutiny among their Indian troops; that there were attempts 
at rebellion in French Annam (see Nashe Slovo) and in the 
German Cameroons (see the Junius pamphlet*); that in 
Europe, on the one hand, there was a rebellion in Ireland, 
which the "freedom-loving" English, who did not dare to 
extend conscription to Ireland, suppressed by executions, 
and, on the other, the Austrian Government passed the 
death sentence on the deputies of the Czech Diet "for trea- 
son", and shot whole Czech regiments for the same "crime". 

This list is, of course, far from complete. Nevertheless, it 
proves that, owing to the crisis of imperialism, the flames 
of national revolt have flared up both in the colonies and in 
Europe, and that national sympathies and antipathies 
have manifested themselves in spite of the Draconian 
threats and measures of repression. All this before the 
crisis of imperialism hit its peak; the power of the imperial- 
ist bourgeoisie was yet to be undermined (this may be 
brought about by a war of "attrition" but has not yet hap- 
pened) and the proletarian movements in the imperialist 
countries were still very feeble. What will happen when 
the war has caused complete exhaustion, or when, in one 
state at least, the power of the bourgeoisie has been shaken 
under the blows of proletarian struggle, as that of tsarism 
in 1905? 

On May 9, 1916, there appeared in Berner Tagwacht, 
the organ of the Zimmerwald group, including some of the 
Leftists, an article on the Irish rebellion entitled "Their 
Song Is Over" and signed with the initials K. R." 111 It 
described the Irish rebellion as being nothing more nor 
less than a "putsch", for, as the author argued, "the Irish 
question was an agrarian one", the peasants had been 
pacified by reforms, and the nationalist movement remained 

See pp. 305-19 of this volume.— Ed. 


only a "purely urban, petty-bourgeois movement, which, 
notwithstanding the sensation it caused, had not much 
social backing". 

It is not surprising that this monstrously doctrinaire 
and pedantic assessment coincided with that of a Russian 
national-liberal Cadet, Mr. A. Kulisher (Rech 112 No. 102, 
April 15, 1916), who also labelled the rebellion "the Dublin 

It is to be hoped that, in accordance with the adage, 
"it's an ill wind that blows nobody any good", many com- 
rades, who were not aware of the morass they were sinking 
into by repudiating "self-determination" and by treating 
the national movements of small nations with disdain, 
will have their eyes opened by the "accidental" coincidence 
of opinion held by a Social-Democrat and a representative 
of the imperialist bourgeoisie!! 

The term "putsch", in its scientific sense, may be employed 
only when the attempt at insurrection has revealed nothing 
but a circle of conspirators or stupid maniacs, and has 
aroused no sympathy among the masses. The centuries-old 
Irish national movement, having passed through various 
stages and combinations of class interest, manifested itself, 
in particular, in a mass Irish National Congress in America 
(Vorwdrts, March 20, 1916) which called for Irish independ- 
ence; it also manifested itself in street fighting conducted 
by a section of the urban petty bourgeoisie and a section of 
the workers after a long period of mass agitation, demonstra- 
tions, suppression of newspapers, etc. Whoever calls 
such a rebellion a "putsch" is either a hardened reactionary, 
or a doctrinaire hopelessly incapable of envisaging a social 
revolution as a living phenomenon. 

To imagine that social revolution is conceivable without 
revolts by small nations in the colonies and in Europe, 
without revolutionary outbursts by a section of the petty 
bourgeoisie with all its prejudices, without a movement of 
the politically non-conscious proletarian and semi-prole- 
tarian masses against oppression by the landowners, the 
church, and the monarchy, against national oppression, 
etc. — to imagine all this is to repudiate social revolution. 
So one army lines up in one place and says, "We are for 
socialism", and another, somewhere else and says, "We are 



for imperialism", and that will be a social revolution! 
Only those who hold such a ridiculously pedantic view 
could vilify the Irish rebellion by calling it a "putsch". 

Whoever expects a "pure" social revolution will never 
live to see it. Such a person pays lip-service to revolution 
without understanding what revolution is. 

The Russian Revolution of 1905 was a bourgeois-demo- 
cratic revolution. It consisted of a series of battles in which 
all the discontented classes, groups and elements of the 
population participated. Among these there were masses 
imbued with the crudest prejudices, with the vaguest and 
most fantastic aims of struggle; there were small groups 
which accepted Japanese money, there were speculators 
and adventurers, etc. But objectively, the mass movement 
was breaking the back of tsarism and paving the way for 
democracy; for this reason the class-conscious workers led it. 

The socialist revolution in Europe cannot be anything 
other than an outburst of mass struggle on the part of all 
and sundry oppressed and discontented elements. Inevi- 
tably, sections of the petty bourgeoisie and of the backward 
workers will participate in it — without such participation, 
mass struggle is impossible, without it no revolution is 
possible — and just as inevitably will they bring into the 
movement their prejudices, their reactionary fantasies, 
their weaknesses and errors. But objectively they will attack 
capital, and the class-conscious vanguard of the revolution, 
the advanced proletariat, expressing this objective truth of 
a variegated and discordant, motley and outwardly fragment- 
ed, mass struggle, will be able to unite and direct it, cap- 
ture power, seize the banks, expropriate the trusts which 
all hate (though for different reasons!), and introduce other 
dictatorial measures which in their totality will amount to 
the overthrow of the bourgeoisie and the victory of social- 
ism, which, however, will by no means immediately "purge" 
itself of petty-bourgeois slag. 

Social-Democracy, we read in the Polish theses (I, 4), 
"must utilise the struggle of the young colonial bourgeoisie 
against European imperialism in order to sharpen the revo- 
lutionary crisis in Europe". (Authors' italics.) 

Is it not clear that it is least of all permissible to contrast 
Europe to the colonies in this respect. The struggle of the 


oppressed nations in Europe, a struggle capable of going 
all the way to insurrection and street fighting, capable of 
breaking down the iron discipline of the army and martial 
law, will "sharpen the revolutionary crisis in Europe" to 
an infinitely greater degree than a much more developed 
rebellion in a remote colony. A blow delivered against the 
power of the English imperialist bourgeoisie by a rebellion 
in Ireland is a hundred times more significant politically 
than a blow of equal force delivered in Asia or in Africa. 

The French chauvinist press recently reported the publi- 
cation in Belgium of the eightieth issue of an illegal journal, 
Free Belgium. 115 Of course, the chauvinist press of France 
very often lies, but this piece of news seems to be true. 
Whereas chauvinist and Kautskyite German Social-Democ- 
racy has failed to establish a free press for itself during the 
two years of war, and has meekly borne the yoke of military 
censorship (only the Left Radical elements, to their credit 
be it said, have published pamphlets and manifestos, in 
spite of the censorship) — an oppressed civilised nation 
has reacted to a military oppression unparalleled in ferocity 
by establishing an organ of revolutionary protest! The dia- 
lectics of history are such that small nations, powerless as 
an independent factor in the struggle against imperialism, 
play a part as one of the ferments, one of the bacilli, which 
help the real anti-imperialist force, the socialist proletar- 
iat, to make its appearance on the scene. 

The general staffs in the current war are doing their 
utmost to utilise any national and revolutionary movement 
in the enemy camp: the Germans utilise the Irish rebel- 
lion, the French — the Czech movement, etc. They are acting 
quite correctly from their own point of view. A serious 
war would not be treated seriously if advantage were not 
taken of the enemy's slightest weakness and if every 
opportunity that presented itself were not seized upon, the 
more so since it is impossible to know beforehand at what 
moment, where, and with what force some powder magazine 
will "explode". We would be very poor revolutionaries 
if, in the proletariat's great war of liberation for socialism, 
we did not know how to utilise every popular movement 
against every single disaster imperialism brings in order to 
intensify and extend the crisis. If we were, on the one 



hand, to repeat in a thousand keys the declaration that we 
are "opposed" to all national oppression and, on the other, 
to describe the heroic revolt of the most mobile and 
enlightened section of certain classes in an oppressed nation 
against its oppressors as a "putsch", we should be sinking 
to the same level of stupidity as the Kautskyites. 

It is the misfortune of the Irish that they rose prematurely, 
before the European revolt of the proletariat had had time 
to mature. Capitalism is not so harmoniously built that 
the various sources of rebellion can immediately merge of 
their own accord, without reverses and defeats. On the other 
hand, the very fact that revolts do break out at different 
times, in different places, and are of different kinds, guaran- 
tees wide scope and depth to the general movement; but it 
is only in premature, individual, sporadic and therefore 
unsuccessful, revolutionary movements that the masses 
gain experience, acquire knowledge, gather strength, and 
get to know their real leaders, the socialist proletarians, 
and in this way prepare for the general onslaught, just as 
certain strikes, demonstrations, local and national, mutinies 
in the army, outbreaks among the peasantry, etc., prepared 
the way for the general onslaught in 1905. 


Contrary to the erroneous assertions of the Polish Social- 
Democrats, the demand for the self-determination of nations 
has played no less a role in our Party agitation than, for 
example, the arming of the people, the separation of the 
church from the state, the election of civil servants by the 
people and other points the philistines have called "utopian". 
On the contrary, the strengthening of the national move- 
ments after 1905 naturally prompted more vigorous agita- 
tion by our Party, including a number of articles in 1912-13, 
and the resolution of our Party in 1913 giving a precise 
"anti-Kautskian" definition (i.e., one that does not tolerate 
purely verbal "recognition") of the content of the point.* 

See present edition, Vol. 19, pp. 427-29.— Ed. 


It will not do to overlook a fact which was revealed at 
that early date: opportunists of various nationalities, the 
Ukrainian Yurkevich, the Bundist Liebman, Semkovsky, 
the Russian myrmidon of Potresov and Co., all spoke in 
favour of Rosa Luxemburg's arguments against self-deter- 
mination! What for Rosa Luxemburg, the Polish Social- 
Democrat, had been merely an incorrect theoretical general- 
isation of the specific conditions of the movement in Poland, 
became objective opportunist support for Great-Russian 
imperialism when actually applied to more extensive 
circumstances, to conditions obtaining in a big state instead 
of a small one, when applied on an international scale 
instead of the narrow Polish scale. The history of trends 
in political thought (as distinct from the views of individ- 
uals) has proved the correctness of our programme. 

Outspoken social-imperialists, such as Lensch, still rail 
both against self-determination and the renunciation of 
annexations. As for the Kautskyites, they hypocritically 
recognise self-determination — Trotsky and Martov are 
going the same way here in Russia. Both of them, like 
Kautsky, say they favour self-determination. What happens 
in practice? Take Trotsky's articles "The Nation and the 
Economy" in Nashe Slovo, and you will find his usual eclec- 
ticism: on the one hand, the economy unites nations and, 
on the other, national oppression divides them. The conclu- 
sion? The conclusion is that the prevailing hypocrisy remains 
unexposed, agitation is dull and does not touch upon what 
is most important, basic, significant and closely connected 
with practice — one's attitude to the nation that is oppressed 
by "one's own" nation. Martov and other secretaries abroad 
simply preferred to forget — a profitable lapse of memory! — 
the struggle of their colleague and fellow-member Semkovsky 
against self-determination. In the legal press of the Gvozdyov- 
ites (Nash Golos) Martov spoke in favour of self-determi- 
nation, pointing out the indisputable truth that during 
the imperialist war it does not yet imply participation, etc., 
but evading the main thing — he also evades it in the illegal, 
free press! — which is that even in peace time Russia set a 
world record for the oppression of nations with an imperial- 
ism that is much more crude, medieval, economically 
backward and militarily bureaucratic. The Russian Social- 



Democrat who "recognises" the self-determination of nations 
more or less as it is recognised by Messrs. Plekhanov, Pot- 
resov and Co., that is, without bothering to fight for the 
freedom of secession for nations oppressed by tsarism, is 
in fact an imperialist and a lackey of tsarism. 

No matter what the subjective "good" intentions of 
Trotsky and Martov may be, their evasiveness objectively 
supports Russian social-imperialism. The epoch of imperial- 
ism has turned all the "great" powers into the oppressors 
of a number of nations, and the development of imperial- 
ism will inevitably lead to a more definite division of trends 
in this question in international Social-Democracy as well. 

Written in July 1916 

Published in October 1916 Published according to 

in Sbornik Sotsial-Demokrata No. 1 the Sbornik text 

Signed: N. Lenin 



1 Written in 1915. In early 1916, Lenin, while in Berne, sent the 
manuscript to Maxim Gorky for the Parus Publishers, but it did 
not appear at that time. It was published in Petrograd in 1917 
by Zhizn i Znaniye. 

The material for the book — variants of the plan and statisti- 
cal extracts from the U.S. Census reports for 1900 and 1910 — 
was published in Lenin Miscellany XIX in 1932. 

Lenin did not realise his intention of writing the second part 
of the book, which was to have dealt with Germany. p. 13 

2 Zavety (Behests) — a legal literary and political monthly of a 
Socialist-Revolutionary orientation; published in Petersburg from 
April 1912 to July 1914. p. 17 

3 Karl Marx, Capital, Vol. Ill, Moscow, 1959, p. 600. p. 22 

4 Zemstvo — so-called local self-government bodies headed by the 
nobility. They were set up in the central gubernias of Russia 
in 1864. Their powers were restricted to purely local economic 
affairs (hospitals, roads, statistics, insurance, etc.), and they were 
subordinated to the provincial governors and the Minister of the 
Interior, who could overrule any decisions the government found 
undesirable. p. 60 

5 Manilov — a character in Gogol's Dead Souls, who had a very 
fertile imagination and loved to talk; a prattling self-complacent 
dreamer. p. 84 

6 Kautsky's pamphlet, Der Weg Zur Macht (The Way to Power), 
published in Berlin in 1909. p. 106 

7 Die Neue Zeit (New Times) — the journal of the German Social- 
Democratic Party, published in Stuttgart from 1883 to 1923. 
In 1885-95, it carried some articles by Engels, who often gave 
advice to its editors and sharply criticised them for any depar- 
tures from Marxism. Beginning with the late nineties, after 
Engels's death, it made a regular practice of publishing articles by 
revisionists. During the First World War, it adopted a Centrist, 
Kautskyite stand, and supported the social-chauvinists. p. 106 

8 The article was written by Lenin in German and published in 
January 1916 in the first issue of the theoretical organ of the Zim- 
merwald Left, the magazine Vorbote (Herald). Earlier, Lenin 
had written an article in Russian under the same title; it was first 



published in the magazine Proletarskaya Revolutsia (Proletarian 
Revolution) No. 5 (28) in 1924, and is included in Volume 21 of 
the present edition, where the text is not quite identical with 
the one in Vorbote. p. 108 

9 The Quadruple Alliance — the imperialist alliance of Britain, 
France, Russia and Italy, which in 1915 withdrew from the Drei- 
bund and joined the Triple Entente. p. 108 

10 An opportunist trend in German and International Social-Democ- 
racy hostile to Marxism. It emerged in Germany at the end of the 
19th century, and got its name from Eduard Bernstein, a German 
Social-Democrat, who tried to revise Marx's revolutionary theory 
on the lines of bourgeois liberalism. Among his supporters in 
Russia were the legal Marxists, the Economists, the Bund and the 
Mensheviks. p. 112 

11 Sozialistische Monatshefte (Socialist Monthly) — the chief organ 
of the German Social-Democratic opportunists and an organ of 
international opportunism; during the First World War it took a 
social-chauvinist stand; published in Berlin from 1897 to 1933. p. 112 

12 Members of the Fabian Society, a British reformist organisation 
founded in 1884; It got its name from the Roman commander, 
Fabius Maximus (d. 203 B.C.), surnamed Cunctator, that is, 
the Delayer, for his tactics of harassing Hannibal's army without 
risking a pitched battle. Most of the Society's members were bour- 
geois intellectuals: scholars, writers, politicians (such as Sidney 
and Beatrice Webb, Bernard Shaw, Ramsay MacDonald, etc.); 
they denied the need for the class struggle of the proletariat and a 
socialist revolution, and insisted that the transition from capi- 
talism to socialism lay only through petty reform and a gradual 
transformation of society. Lenin said it was "an extremely oppor- 
tunist trend" (see present edition, Vol. 13, p. 358). In 1900, the 
Fabian Society was affiliated to the Labour Party. Fabian social- 
ism is one of the ideological sources of the Labour Party policy. 

During the First World War, the Fabians took a social-chau- 
vinist stand. For Lenin's description of the Fabians, see "British 
Pacifism and the British Dislike of Theory" (present edition, 
Vol. 21). ' p. 113 

13 Founded in 1900 as an amalgamation of trade unions, socialist 
organisations and groups to seat workers' representatives in Par- 
liament (Committee for Labour Representation). In 1906, it took 
the name of Labour Party. Trade-unionists are automatically 
members of the Party provided they pay membership dues. It is 
headed by an Executive Committee which together with the Trade 
Union General Council and the Executive Committee of the Co- 
operative Party constitute the so-called National Labour Coun- 
cil. The Co-operative Party and the I.L.P. are corporate members 
of the Labour Party. 

Initially a working men's party (it was subsequently joined by 
considerable numbers of petty-bourgeois elements), the Labour 



Party is opportunist in ideology and tactics. Since its emergence 
its leaders have been conducting a policy of class collaboration 
with the bourgeoisie. "The Labour Party is an out-and-out bour- 
geois party, for although it does consist of workers it is led by 
reactionaries — the worst reactionaries who operate in the spirit 

of the bourgeoisie " (See present edition, Vol. 31, "Speech on 

the Membership in the British Labour Party, Delivered on August 
6, 1920, at the Second Congress of the Communist International".) 
During the First World War, its leaders took a social-chauvinist 

Labour Governments (1924, 1929, 1945 and 1950) have con- 
ducted the policy of British imperialism. Dissatisfaction with 
the leadership's policy among the British working people has led 
to a Left-wing trend in the Party opposing the leadership's official 
policy. p. 113 

The Independent Labour Party (I.L.P.) is a reformist organisa- 
tion founded by the leaders of the "new trade unions" in 1893, 
during the upswing in the strike movement and the working- 
class movement for independence from the bourgeois parties. The 
I.L.P. included members of the "new trade unions" and a number 
of old ones, and also intellectuals and petty-bourgeois elements 
influenced by the Fabians. The Party was headed by Keir Hardie. 
From the outset it took a bourgeois-reformist stand, concentrating 
on the parliamentary forms of struggle and parliamentary deals 
with the Liberal Party. Lenin said it was "in practice an oppor- 
tunist party which has always depended on the bourgeoisie" (see 
present edition, Vol. 29, "The Tasks of the Third International") 
At the outbreak of the First World War, the I.L.P. issued an 
anti-war manifesto, but soon slid down to social-chauvinist 
positions. p. 113 

The British Socialist Party was founded in Manchester in 1911 
by a merger of the Social-Democratic Party with other socialist 
groups. It spread Marxist ideas and was a party that was "not 
opportunist and was really independent of the Liberals" (see pres- 
ent edition, Vol. 19, p. 273). But its small membership and weak 
ties with the masses lent it a somewhat sectarian character. During 
the First World War, a struggle broke out within it between the 
internationalist trend (William Gallacher, Albert Inkpin, John 
McLean, Theodore Rothstein, and others) and the social-chauvin- 
ist trend led by Hyndman. Some in the internationalist trend 
took a Centrist stand on a number of issues. In February 1916, 
a group of B.S.P. members founded The Call, a newspaper which 
played a great part in rallying the internationalists. The B.S.P. 
annual conference at Salford in April 1916 condemned the social- 
chauvinist stand of Hyndman and his supporters, and they left 
the Party. 

The B.S.P. welcomed the Great October Socialist Revolution. 
Its members took a leading part in the British working people's 
movement in defence of Soviet Russia against foreign interven- 
tion. In 1919, the majority of its local organisations (98 against 4) 



voted in favour of joining the Communist International. 
Together with the Communist Unity Group, the B.S.P. played the 
decisive role in founding the Communist Party of Great Britain. 
At the first unity congress held in 1920, the overwhelming major- 
ity of local B.S.P. organisations joined the Communist Party, p. 113 

16 Nasha Zarya (Our Dawn)— a legal monthly of the Menshevik 
liquidators published in Petersburg from January 1910 to 
September 1914. It was the liquidators' centre in Russia. With 
the outbreak of the First World War the journal took a social- 
chauvinist stand. p. 113 

17 Organising Committee (O.C.) — the Mensheviks' governing centre, 
formed at the August conference of Menshevik liquidators and all 
anti-Party groups and trends in 1912. p. 113 

18 Shiroki (Broad) Socialists — an opportunist trend within the 
Bulgarian Social-Democratic Party. p. 113 

19 Preussische Jahrbiicher (Prussian Yearbook) — a conservative 
monthly of the German capitalists and landowners published in 
Berlin from 1858 to 1935. p. 114 

20 Friedrich Engels, "Zur Kritik des sozial-demokratischen Pro- 
grammentwurfes 1891" (published in Die Neue Zeit, Jg. XX, 
1901, B. II, No. 1). p. 114 

21 Marx and Engels, Selected Correspondence, Moscow, 1955, p. 537. 

p. 116 

22 Engels's letter to Friedrich Albert Sorge of November 11, 1893. 
(No English translation available.) p. 116 

23 The Zimmerwald Left was formed by Lenin at the first socialist 
conference of internationalists at Zimmerwald, Switzerland, in 
early September 1915; it was, Lenin said, the first step in the 
development of the internationalist movement against the war. 
The Bolsheviks, led by Lenin, were the only group within the Zim- 
merwald Left to take a consistently correct stand. The group also 
included a number of inconsistent internationalists, whose mis- 
takes Lenin criticised in "The Junius Pamphlet", and "The Dis- 
cussion of Self-Determination Summed Up" (see pp. 305-19, 
320-60 of this volume). p. 118 

24 A weekly founded in 1891. From 1893 it was an organ of the I.L.P.; 
from 1922, it was called the New Leader, and since 1946 it has been 
known as the Socialist Leader. p. 119 

25 Berner Tagwacht (Berne Reveille)— the organ of the Social- 
Democratic Party of Switzerland, published in Berne from 1893. 
In 1909-18, it was edited by R. Grimm. At the outbreak of the 
First World War it carried articles by Liebknecht, Mehring and 
other Left-wing Social-Democrats. From 1917 the newspaper 
gave open support to the social-chauvinists. The paper's present 
stand on the key domestic and foreign policy issues coincides 
with that of bourgeois newspapers. p. 119 



26 Written by Lenin for the enlarged meeting of the International 
Socialist Commission (I.S.C.) in Berne which was held on Feb- 
ruary 5-8, 1916. It adopted several of Lenin's points but under the 
pressure of the Right-wingers rejected his proposal for "interna- 
tional unification of socialists opposing war and nationalism". 
It set the Second International Socialist Conference for April 24, 
1916. The document had no title, the present one having been sup- 
plied by the Institute of Marxism-Leninism, C.C., C.P.S.U. p. 121 

27 The I.S.C. was the executive of the Zimmerwald group elected 
at the Zimmerwald Conference in September 1915. p. 121 

28 The R.S.D.L.P. Central Committee submitted proposals to the 
Second Socialist Conference on all the key items of the agenda. 
For the draft proposals written by Lenin, see pp. 169-79 of this 
volume. p. 121 

29 Written during the enlarged meeting of the I.S.C. in Berne. It 
was discussed and adopted. p. 122 

30 This speech was delivered at an international rally during the 
enlarged meeting of the I.S.C. in Berne. p. 123 

31 Adopted by the Zimmerwald Conference of internationalists in 
September 1915 (see present edition, "First Step", Vol. 21). p. 123 

32 The newspaper of the American socialists founded in Girard, 
Kansas, in 1895. While not officially connected with the Amer- 
ican Socialist Party, the newspaper spread socialist ideas and 
was very popular among the workers. p. 125 

33 La Bataille (The Battle) — the organ of the French anarchist syn- 
dicalists, published in Paris from 1915 to 1920 in place of La 
Bataille Syndicaliste, which was closed down in September 1915; 
during the First World War, took a chauvinist stand. p. 127 

34 Vorwarts (Forward) — a daily, the Central Organ of the German 
Social-Democratic Party, published in Berlin from 1891 in 
accordance with a resolution of the Party's Halle Congress as a 
continuation of the Berliner Volksblatt (Berlin People's Newspa- 
per), which had been published from 1884. On its pages Engels 
fought every manifestation of opportunism. In the late nineties, 
after Engels's death, the paper fell into the hands of the Party's 
Right wing and regularly printed articles by opportunists. It 
gave a biased account of the struggle against opportunism and 
revisionism within the R.S.D.L.P., supported the Economists, 
and after the Party split, the Mensheviks. During the years of 
reaction, Vorwarts published Trotsky's slanderous articles but 
refused to print refutations by Lenin and the Bolsheviks or fair 
accounts of the state of affairs in the Party. 

During the First World War, it took a social-chauvinist stand. 
After the Great October Socialist Revolution it engaged in anti- 
Soviet propaganda. It was published in Berlin until 1933. p. 127 

35 War industries committees were set up in Russia in 1915 by 
imperialist Big Business. In its efforts to control the workers and 



spread defencist sentiments among them, the bourgeoisie attached 
workers' groups" to these committees which were to exhort the 
masses to increase munitions output. The Mensheviks were active 
in this pseudo-patriotic undertaking. The Bolsheviks successfully 
boycotted them with the aid of the majority of the workers, p. 128 

36 Founded in 1902. In 1905, the F.S.P. and the Socialist Party of 
France founded the United Socialist Party, which included all 
socialist parties and groups (Guesdists, Blanquists, Jauresists, 
etc.). The leadership of the F.S.P. passed into the hands of 
socialist-reformists (led by Jaures), who constituted the majority. 
During the First World War, it took a social-chauvinist stand, its 
parliamentary group voted for war credits and its members were 
in the bourgeois government. The F.S.P. split at its Tours Con- 
gress, December 25-30, 1920; the majority formed the Commu- 
nist Party of France, while the Right-wing opportunist minority, 
led by Leon Blum, left the Congress and formed their own party, 
retaining the old name of the French Socialist Party. 

The resolution motioned by Bourderon at the F.S.P. Congress 
in December 1915 was rejected by a majority. At that time, 
Bourderon belonged to the Right wing of the Zimmerwald group. 

p. 128 

It was published in French as a leaflet in Geneva. p. 130 


The Menshevik magazine, The International and the War, only 
one issue of which was published in late 1915. p. 131 


Die Internationale Sozialistische Kommission zu Bern. Bulletin 
—the I.S.C. organ from September 1915 to January 1917. It 
was published in English, French, and German. There were six 
issues in all. p. 131 


The Menshevik group in the Fourth State Duma. p. 131 


Luch (The Ray) — a legal daily of the Menshevik liquidators, 
published in Petersburg from September 1912 to July 1913; financed 
from funds donated by "ric/i friends from among the bourgeoi- 
sie' (Vol. 20, p. 368). p. 131 


Legal Menshevik newspapers published in Petrograd: Utro (Morn- 
ing), in August 1915; and Rabocheye Utro (Workers' Morning), 
in October-December 1915. p. 132 


Sovremenny Mir (The Contemporary World) — a literary, scien- 
tific and political monthly published in Petersburg from 1906 
to 1918. Among its contributors were Mensheviks, including 
Plekhanov. Bolsheviks also contributed to the magazine during 
the bloc with the Plekhanov group of pro-Party Mensheviks and 
in early 1914. In March 1914, it carried Lenin's article "Socialism 
Demolished Again" (see present edition, Vol. 20, p. 187). 

During the First World War the magazine was an organ of 
the social-chauvinists. p. 132 






44 Nashe Slovo (Our Word) — a Menshevik-Trotskyist daily, pub- 
lished in Paris from January 1915 to September 1916, in place 
of Golos (Voice). p. 132 

Prizyv (The Call), published in Paris between 1915 and 1917 by a 
social-chauvinist group of Mensheviks and Socialist-Revolution- 
aries, p. 135 

The conference was organised by the Socialist-Revolutionaries 
in Petrograd in July 1915. It adopted a resolution calling for 
active support of tsarism in the war. p. 135 

In Turgenev's prose poem "An Everyday Rule to Follow", p. 136 

Sotsial-Demokrat (Social-Democrat) — the Central Organ of the 
R.S.D.L.P., an illegal newspaper published from February 1908 
to January 1917, a total of 58 issues. The first was published in 
Russia, and the rest abroad, first in Paris, then in Geneva. Under 
an R.S.D.L.P. Central Committee decision, its Editorial Board 
was composed of Bolsheviks, Mensheviks and Polish Social- 

It carried more than 80 articles and notes by Lenin, who 
worked to make the Editorial Board conduct a consistent Bolshe- 
vik line. Some of the editors (Kamenev and Zinoviev) took a con- 
ciliatory attitude to the liquidators and tried to thwart the 
implementation of Lenin's line . The Mensheviks Martov and Dan, 
while hampering the work of the Central Organ's Editorial Board, 
openly defended the liquidators in their factional newspaper, 
Golos Sotsial-Demokrata (The Voice of a Social-Democrat). 
Lenin's resolute struggle against the liquidators finally forced 
Martov and Dan to resign from the Editorial Board in June 1911. 
From December 1911, the newspaper was edited by Lenin. 

At the outbreak of the First World War, after an interval of 
one year, Lenin succeeded in resuming its publication. Issue 
No. 33 of Sotsial-Demokrat, dated November 1, 1914, carried a mani- 
festo of the R.S.D.L.P. Central Committee, which was written 
by Lenin. His articles in the newspaper during the war were out- 
standing in implementing the Bolshevik Party's strategy and tac- 
tics on war, peace, and revolution, and in exposing overt and 
covert social-chauvinists and rallying the internationalist elements 
in the international working-class movement. p. 137 

The name given by workers to the Menshevik liquidators who 
adapted themselves to the Stolypin regime, accepted it and tried 
to obtain the tsarist government's permission to set up a legal 
"labour" party, at the price of having to abandon the Programme 
and tactics of the R.S.D.L.P. p. 138 

Lenin said it was "Octobrist" because it dove-tailed with the stand 
of the counter-revolutionary Octobrist Party. 

Octobrists or the League of October Seventeenth was a counter- 
revolutionary party of big merchants and industrialists and big 
landowners who ran their estates on capitalist lines. It was formed 





in November 1905. The Octobrists supported the tsar's Manifesto 
of October 17, 1905 and gave full backing to his government's 
domestic and foreign policy. They were led by the industrialist 
A. Guchkov and landed proprietor M. Rodzyanko. p. 139 

51 A frame-up trial instituted in 1894 by reactionary royalist cir- 
cles among the French militarists against Dreyfus, a Jewish officer 
of the General Staff, who was falsely accused of espionage and high 
treason. A court martial sentenced him to life imprisonment. 
The public movement for a review of the case took the form of a 
fierce struggle between the republicans and the royalists and led 
to his eventual release in 1906. 

Lenin said the Dreyfus case was "one of the many thousands 
of fraudulent tricks of the reactionary military caste". p. 145 

52 The incident was caused by the brutality of a Prussian officer 
towards Alsatians in Zabern, Alsace, in November 1913, and 
resulted in a burst of indignation among the local, mainly French, 
population against the Prussian militarists (see Lenin's article 
"Zabern" in the present edition, Vol. 19, pp. 513-15). p. 145 

53 Marx's letters to Engels of November 2 (no English translation 
available) and November 30, 1867 (Marx and Engels, Selected 
Correspondence, Moscow, 1955, pp. 234-37). p. 146 

54 For a critique of Renner and Bauer's reactionary idea of "cultur- 
al and national autonomy" see Lenin's "'Cultural-National' 
Autonomy" (present edition, Vol. 19) and "Critical Remarks on the 
National Question" (Vol. 20). p. 147 

55 Karl Marx, "Konfidentielle Mitteilung", quoted from the manu- 
script kept in the archives of the Institute of Marxism-Leninism 
of the C.C. C.P.S.U. p. 149 

56 Friedrich Engels, "Der Prager Aufstand", in Neue Rheinische 
Zeitung No. 18, June 18, 1848. p. 149 

57 Marx's proposition on the Irish question was stated in his letters 
to Kugelmann on November 29 and to Engels on December 10, 
1869 (Marx and Engels, Selected Correspondence, pp. 276-78 and 
pp. 279-81). Lenin quotes from Marx's letter to Engels on Novem- 
ber 2, 1867 (no English translation available). p. 149 

58 Die Glocke (The Bell) — a magazine published in Munich and 
later in Berlin from 1915 to 1925 by the social-chauvinist Parvus 
(A. L. Helfand), a member of the German Social-Democratic 
Party. p. 150 

59 Friedrich Engels, "Der demokratische Panslawismus". Lenin 
used Aus dem literarischen Nachlass von Karl Marx, Friedrich 
Engels und Ferdinand Lassalle, hrsg. von Franz Mehring, Stutt- 
gart, 1902, Bd. Ill, S. 246-64, in which the author of the article 
is not named. p. 150 



The resolution was on the national question; it was written by 
Lenin and adopted by the meeting of the R.S.D.L.P. Central 
Committee and Party officials, which was held at Poronin, near 
Cracow, on October 6-14, 1913. For reasons of secrecy it was known 
as the "Summer" or "August" Meeting. For the text of the reso- 
lution, see Vol. 19, pp. 427-29. " p. 154 

Gazeta Robotnicza (Workers' Gazette)— the illegal organ of the 
Warsaw Committee of the Social-Democratic Party of Poland and 
Lithuania, published from May to October 1906. Its publication 
was resumed in 1912 and continued until January 1916. Parallel 
committees were established after the split among the Polish 
Social-Democrats in 1912: there were two Warsaw Committees 
and two organs of the same name, one published by the suppor- 
ters of the Executive Committee in Warsaw and the other, by the 
Opposition Warsaw Committee in Cracow. The Opposition Warsaw 
Committee published two issues, Nos. 24 and 25 (with supple- 
ment), in Zurich in 1915-16. p. 157 

This refers to the Brussels "Unity" Conference, July 16-18, 1914, 
called by the Executive Committee of the International Socialist 
Bureau (I.S.B.) for an exchange of opinion on the prospects of re- 
uniting the R.S.D.L.P. The following were represented: R.S.D.L.P. 
Central Committee (Bolsheviks), Organising Committee (Men- 
sheviks); Plekhanov's Unity group; the Vperyod group; the Bund; 
the Social-Democrats of the Latvian Territory, the Social- 
Democrats of Lithuania; the Polish Social-Democrats; the Polish 
Social-Democratic Opposition; the Polish Socialist Party (The 
Left wing). The I.S.B. Executive was represented by Vandervelde, 
Huysmans, Kautsky, Nemetz and others. Long before the Confer- 
ence, the I.S.B. leaders made a secret arrangement with the liqui- 
dators on joint action against the Bolsheviks. 

Lenin and the Bolsheviks were aware of the real aims pursued 
by the organisers of the Conference, but deemed it necessary to 
attend, because a refusal to do so would not have been under- 
stood by the workers of Russia. The R.S.D.L.P. Central Committee 
sent its delegation — I. F. Armand (Petrova), M. F. Vladimirsky 
(Kamsky) and I. F. Popov (Pavlov). Lenin briefed the delegates, 
wrote the report, gave detailed instructions, and provided them 
with the necessary material, documents and facts exposing the 
opportunism of the Menshevik liquidators and their allies. Lenin 
was living in Poronin and directed the delegation from day to day 
by his advice and instructions. 

The R.S.D.L.P. Central Committee report was delivered by 
Armand. The I.S.B. leaders would not let her read the full text and 
she had to summarise only a part of the report and set out the 
Bolsheviks' terms for unity, which the Mensheviks and the leaders 
of the Second International met with cries and threats against 
the Bolsheviks. Kautsky, on behalf of the I.S.B., motioned a 
unity resolution, asserting that there were no substantial con- 
tradictions within the Russian Social-Democratic Party which 
could be an obstacle to unity. He was supported by Plekhanov 



and the representatives of the O.C., who fiercely attacked Lenin 
and the C.C. delegation. Rosa Luxemburg also took an erroneous 
stand and joined Plekhanov, Vandervelde, Kautsky and the other 
who supported the amalgamation of the Bolsheviks and the Men- 
sheviks. Since the Conference was not empowered to adopt any 
resolutions — it was to confine itself to an exchange of opinion — 
the Bolsheviks and the Latvian Social-Democrats refused to 
take part in the voting, but the resolution was passed by a ma- 

The Bolsheviks, led by Lenin, refused to abide by the deci- 
sions of the Brussels Conference and exposed the true aims of 
the "unifiers" before the international proletariat. The opportu- 
nist leaders of the Second International failed to eliminate the 
Bolshevik Party. p. 157 

After the Menshevik K, A. Gvozdyov — a policy of collaborating 
with the imperialist bourgeoisie. p. 159 

L. Tyszka (Jogiches), was a leader of the Polish Social-Democrats, 
at times unprincipled and vacillating in his political activity. 
During the First World War he joined the internationalists; 
worked with Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liehknecht to found the 
Spartacus League in Germany; in March 1919 was arrested and 
killed in prison. For a characteristic of Tyszka, see Lenin's "The 
Split among the Polish Social-Democrats" (present edition Vol. 
18), "Would-be Uniters", "Coteries Abroad and Russian Liquida- 
tors" (Vol. 19), et. al. p. 160 

The Second International Socialist Conference held in Kienthal, 
Switzerland, on April 24-30 1916. 

It was attended by 43 delegates from 10 countries — Austria, 
France, Germany, Italy, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Serbia, 
Switzerland and Russia. A delegate from Britain and a delegate 
from the Secretariat of the Youth International attended as 
guests. The delegates of the Independent Labour Party of Britain, 
the United States, Bulgaria, Rumania, Greece, and Sweden were 
refused passports and were unable to attend. Some Left-wing 
bodies delegated their powers to other parties: the Social-Demo- 
crats of the Latvian Territory transferred their credentials to the 
R.S.D.L.P. Central Committee the delegate of the Dutch Lefts, 
H. Roland-Hoist, to the Territorial Executive of the Social- 
Democrats of the Kingdom of Poland and Lithuania. 

Russia was represented at the Conference by three R.S.D.L.P. 
Central Committee delegates headed by Lenin, two delegates 
from the Menshevik O.C. and three delegates from the Left 
Socialist-Revolutionaries. From Germany there were seven dele- 
gates from the Centrist Haase-Ledebour group, two delegates from 
the Internationale group and one from the Bremen Left-wing 
radicals. Italy was represented by seven delegates, France, by three 
Centrists and one syndicalist (Guilbeaux); Poland, by four, and 
Switzerland, by five. 



The Conference discussed the following questions: (1) the 
struggle to end the war; (2) the attitude of the proletariat to ques- 
tions of peace; (3) agitation and propaganda; (4) parliamentary 
activities; (5) mass struggle; and (6) convocation of the Interna- 
tional Socialist Bureau. 

Lenin started making extensive preparations for the Second 
International Socialist Conference immediately after the enlarged 
meeting of the International Socialist Committee in Berne 
(February 5-9, 1916). Without waiting for the Conference to be 
called officially, he sent to all the Bolshevik sections abroad and 
Left-wing socialists in various countries a letter, written with 
his participation, about the enlarged I.S.C. meeting and the con- 
vocation of the Conference, pointing to the need for immediate 
preparations for it and the election of delegates. His "Proposals 
Submitted by the Central Committee of the R.S.D.L.P. to the 
Second Socialist Conference" were also circulated for discussion 
among all Bolshevik organisations and among Left-wing Social- 
Democrats in France, Germany, Britain, Switzerland, Italy, 
Holland, Norway, Sweden and other countries. In some of his 
letters Lenin stressed that the Bureau of the Zimmerwald Left 
should prepare a report and theses for the Conference and hold a 
number of Left-wing meetings before and during the Conference. 

As a result of the work done by Lenin and the Bolsheviks, the 
Left wing at the Conference was stronger than at Zimmerwald. 
It was joined by the delegate of the International Socialists of 
Germany group, two delegates of the Internationale group, the 
French syndicalist Guilbeaux, the representative of the Serbian 
Social-Democrats, Kaclerovic, and the Italian socialist Giacinto Ser- 
rati. Thus, the Zimmerwald Left, which had 12 delegates at the 
Kienthal Conference, on some points obtained from 12 to 19 votes, 
or almost one-half. This reflected the shift to internationalism 
in the international working-class movement. During the Kienthal 
Conference, Lenin called several meetings of the Left to discuss "The 
Proposals Submitted by the Central Committee of the R.S.D.L.P. 
to the Second Socialist Conference". He rallied the Left-wing 
forces for joint and organised action at the Conference against its 
Kautskyite majority. The Zimmerwald Left worked out and laid 
before the Conference a draft resolution on the question of peace, 
which contained Lenin's key propositions. To avoid complete 
exposure, the Right-wing majority at the Conference was forced 
to follow the Left on a number of questions, but continued to 
oppose the break with the social-chauvinists. 

Lenin took an active part in the Conference: he was a member 
of the commission on the convocation of the I.S.B., spoke several 
times, talked with delegates and exchanged notes with them at 
the sittings. 

The struggle centred on the convocation of the I.S.B.; the 
Left got in an addendum to the resolution, which censured the 
activity of the I.S.B. but did not reject the possibility of its con- 
vocation, to the effect that in the event of its being convened an 
enlarged International Socialist Committee was to be called to 



discuss joint action by the representatives of the Zimmerwald 
group. The Conference adopted a resolution on the struggle for 
peace and an "Appeal to the Peoples Being Ruined and Slaughtered". 

In view of the vote for war credits cast by the minority of the 
French parliamentary group, the Zimmerwald Left tabled a 
motion stating that such acts are incompatible with socialism and 
the anti-war struggle. Lenin said the Kienthal Conference was a 
step forward, although it failed to adopt the key Bolshevik 
propositions on turning the imperialist war into civil war, the defeat 
of one's own imperialist government, and the establishment of 
the Third International. It helped to crystallise and rally the 
internationalist elements on the ideological foundation of 
Marxism-Leninism. On the initiative of Lenin and the Bolsheviks, 
these elements subsequently constituted the nucleus of the Com- 
munist (Third) International. p. 161 

66 Arbeiter Zeitung (Workers' Newspaper) — a daily, the Central 
Organ of the Austrian Social-Democrats, published in Vienna 
from 1889. During the First World War it took a social-chauvin- 
ist stand. Lenin called it the newspaper of the "Viennese traitors 
to socialism". 

It was closed down in 1934 and resumed publication in 1945 as 

the Central Organ of the Socialist Party of Austria. p. 165 

67 Nash Golos (Our Voice)— a social-chauvinist Menshevik newspa- 
per, published in Samara in 1915 and 1916. p. 166 

68 The International Socialist Bureau (I.S.B.) was the permanent 
executive and information body of the Second International 
located at Brussels. It was founded by a decision taken at the Paris 
Congress of the Second International (1900). It consisted of two 
delegates from each national party, and was to meet four times a 
year, the Executive Committee of the Belgian Labour Party being 
charged with its direction in between sessions. Vandervelde was 
its Chairman, and Huysmans, its Secretary. Lenin was a member 
of the Bureau, as a representative of the R.S.D.L.P., from 1905. 
From June 1914, on Lenin's proposal, M. M. Litvinov was ap- 
pointed to represent the R.S.D.L.P. Central Committee. When 
the First World War broke out the I.S.B. became a pliable tool 
in the hands of the social-chauvinists. p. 169 

69 A congress of the Dutch Social-Democratic Party held at Arnhem 
on January 8-9, 1916. p. 173 

70 See "The United States of Europe Slogan" in the present edition, 
Vol. 21. p. 173 

71 Avanti! (Forward!) — a daily, the Central Organ of the Italian 
Socialist Party, founded in December 1896. During the First 
World War it was inconsistently internationalist, and retained 
its ties with the reformists. It is now the Central Organ of the 
Italian Socialist Party. p. 174 



72 An I.S.C. "Appeal to All Affiliated Parties and Groups", adopted 
unanimously by the enlarged meeting of the I.S.C. in Berne on 
February 5-9, 1916. The delegation of the R.S.D.L.P, Central 
Committee, led by Lenin, stated that it regarded the Appeal as 
a step forward as compared with the decisions of the First Inter- 
national Socialist Conference at Zimmerwald but did not find 
it satisfactory on all points. The Appeal was published in No. 3 
of the I.S.C. Bulletin on February 29, 1916, and in No. 52 of 
Sotsial-Demokrat on March 25, 1916. p. 178 

73 The official I.S.C. statement dated September 29, 1915, and pub- 
lished in No. 2 of the I.S.C. Bulletin on November 27, 1915, which 
said, contrary to the decisions of the First Zimmerwald Confer- 
ence, that the I.S.C. was prepared to consider itself dissolved 
as soon as the I.S.B. resumed its activities at The Hague. This 
was helping to restore the Second International. p. 178 

74 A group of German Left-wing Social-Democrats which emerged 
during the First World War. Its organ, Lichtstrahlen (Rays of 
Light), was published in Berlin from 1913 to 1921. The I.S.D. 
openly opposed war and opportunism and took the most consis- 
tent stand in Germany on separation from the social-chauvinists 
and Centrists. Borchardt, representing the group at the Zimmer- 
ward Conference, alone of the 10 German delegates signed the 
draft resolution and draft manifesto of the Zimmerwald Left. 
Soon after the Conference, the Bureau of the Zimmerwald Left 
was informed that the I.S.D. group had joined it, and this was 
reported in Internationale Flugblatt (International Leaflets) 
No. 1. The group had no extensive ties with the masses and soon 
broke up. p. 180 

75 G. V. Chicherin. p. 180 

76 A magazine founded by Lenin and published by the Editorial Board 
of Sotsial-Demokrat jointly with G. L. Pyatakov and E. B. Bosch, 
who financed it; Bukharin was one of the editors. Only one 
(double) issue was published. It carried, apart from the article 
"The Honest Voice of a French Socialist", two other articles by 
Lenin: "The Collapse of the Second International" and "Imperia- 
lism and Socialism in Italy". 

The publication plan was worked out by Lenin in the spring 
of 1915. The organisational meeting of the Editorial Board was 
held under his guidance. Lenin planned to make Kommunist an 
international organ of the Left-wing Social-Democrats, but it 
soon transpired that there were grave contradictions between the 
Editorial Board and Bukharin, Pyatakov and Bosch, which were 
aggravated after the publication of the No. 1-2 issue. The Bukha- 
rin-Pyatakov-Bosch group took an incorrect stand on a number of 
points of principle in the Party's Programme and tactics — the 
right of nations to self-determination, the role of democratic 
demands and the minimum programme in general, etc. — and tried to 
make use of the magazine for factional purposes. On the Edito- 



rial Board Lenin fought the Bukharin-Pyatakov-Bosch group, 
exposed their anti-Bolshevik views and factional activities, and 
sharply criticised the conciliatory attitude to the group on the 
part of G. Y. Zinoviev and A. G. Shlyapnikov. 

In view of the group's anti-Party attitude, the Sotsial-Demo- 
krat Editorial Board declared, on Lenin's proposal, that it con- 
sidered it impossible to continue publication. Lenin wrote the 
draft resolution of the R.S.D.L.P. Central Committee terminating 
the publication of Kommunist. The Central Committee Bureau in 
Russia, having heard a report on the contradictions on the Kommu- 
nist Editorial Board, declared its full solidarity with the Editorial 
Board of the Central Organ, Sotsial-Demokrat, and expressed the 
wish that "all publications of the Central Committee should be edited 
on lines strictly in conformity with the Central Committee's 
policy adopted before the outbreak of war". From October 1916 
the Editorial Board of Sotsial-Demokrat began publication of 
Sbornik Sotsial-Demokrata. p. 180 

This article first appeared in Voprosy Strakhovania (Insurance 
Questions), 1916, No. 5, that was intermittently published in 
Petersburg from October 1913 to March 1918. During the First 
World War, it was the only legal Bolshevik periodical in Peters- 
burg. It fought not only for workers' insurance, but also for 
full-blooded Bolshevik slogans: the eight-hour day, confiscation of 
big landed estates and a democratic republic. p. 182 

Engels, "The Role of Violence in History", in Die Neue Zeit (1895/ 
96, Vol. 1) under the title, "Gewalt und Oekonomie bei der Her- 
stellung des neuen Deutschen Reiches" ("Violence and the Econ- 
omy in the Establishment of the New German Empire"). p. 184 

Russkoye Znamya (Russian Banner) — a reactionary newspaper, 
organ of the Union of the Russian People, published in Peters- 
burg from November 1905 to 1917. p. 184 

Written in Zurich in January-June 1916. 

Lenin began to take note of new developments in capitalism 
long before the outbreak of the First World War. In several of 
his writings from 1895 to 1913 — "Draft and Explanation of a Pro- 
gramme for the Social-Democratic Party" (1895-96); "The War 
in China" (1900); "The Lessons of the Crisis" (1901), "Review of 
Home Affairs" (1901); "Concentration of Production in Russia" 
(1912); "The Growth of Capitalist Wealth" (1913) "Backward 
Europe and Advanced Asia" (1913); "The Historical Destiny of 
the Doctrine of Karl Marx" (1913); "Concerning Certain Speeches 
by Workers' Deputies" (1912), and others — Lenin pointed out and 
analysed some characteristic aspects of the imperialist epoch — 
the concentration of production and the growth of monopoly; 
the export of capital; the struggle for new markets and spheres of 
influence; the internationalisation of economic relations; the 
parasitism and decay of capitalism; the growth of contradictions 
between labour and capital and the sharpening of the class struggle; 



and the creation of the material conditions for the transition to 
socialism. He devoted special attention to exposing predatory 
colonial policy, the fight for a division and redivision of the world, 
and the preparation of imperialist wars of aggrandisement. In 
his article, "Marxism and Revisionism", written in 1908, he came 
out against the attempts to revise Marxism and undermine it 
from inside under the pretext of amending and correcting the 
theory in particular, Marx's theory of crises. Lenin wrote: 'The 
forms, the sequence, the picture of particular crises changed, but 
crises remained an inevitable component of the capitalist system. 
While uniting production, the cartels and trusts at the same time 
and in a way that was obvious to all, aggravated the anarchy of 
production, the insecurity of existence of the proletariat and the 
oppression of capital, thereby intensifying class antagonisms 
to an unprecedented degree. That capitalism is heading for a break- 
down — in the sense both of individual political and economic 
crises and of the complete collapse of the entire capitalist system — 
has been made particularly clear, and on a particularly large scale, 
precisely by the new giant trusts" (see present edition, Vol. 15, 
pp. 35-36). 

Lenin kept abreast of all the latest writings on capitalism, as 
will be seen from his review of Hobson's The Evolution of Modern 
Capitalism. In August 1904, Lenin began a translation of Hobson's 
Imperialism, the manuscript of which has not yet been 

It was on the outbreak of the First World War that Lenin 
undertook a comprehensive study of the monopoly stage of capi- 
talist development This was required by the working-class 
revolutionary struggle in Russia and other capitalist countries. In 
order to provide correct leadership for the revolutionary move- 
ment and combat the ideology of imperialist reaction and the 
reformist policy of conciliation with imperialists, it was necessary 
to see one's way in the key economic question without a study of 
which there was no understanding of the assessment of modern 
war or modern politics, namely: the economic essence of imperial- 

Lenin must have started his close study of the writings on 
imperialism in mid-1915, when he was in Berne, for his first 
indexes of literature, plans, extracts, notes and summaries date to 
that period. The preparatory materials for Imperialism, the High- 
est Stage of Capitalism (Notebooks on Imperialism) make up 
about 800 printed pages. They contain extracts from 148 books 
(including 106 in German, 23 in French, 17 in English, and 2 trans- 
lations into Russian), and 232 articles (of them 206 in German, 
13 in French, and 3 in English) from 49 periodicals (34 German, 
7 French and 8 English). 

In early January 1916, Lenin accepted an order for a book on 
imperialism from the legal Parus Publishers, founded in Petro- 
grad in December 1915. Lenin wrote to Maxim Gorky on Decem- 
ber 29, 1915 (January 11, 1916): "I am getting down to the writing 
of a pamphlet on imperialism" (see present edition, Vol. 35). 
In the early part of February 1916, he left Berne for Zurich, where 



he continued to collect and work on materials on imperialism. 
He worked at the Zurich Cantonal Library and ordered books from 
other towns. 

On June 19 (July 2), 1916 Lenin wrote to M. N. Pokrovsky, 
who was then living in France and editing for Parus a series of 
pamphlets about West-European countries during the First World 
War: "Today, I sent you a manuscript by registered mail" (see 
present edition, Vol. 35). The manuscript, which was mailed with 
the letter, did not reach Pokrovsky, and another copy had to be 
sent. Besides, the publishers suggested that the finished manu- 
script should be shortened from eighty to fifty pages, but Lenin 
objected because "it is absolutely impossible to cut it down once 
again and squeeze it into fifty pages" (ibid.). 

When the book reached the publishers, Menshevik elements 
among the management deleted from the book parts sharply 
criticising Kautsky and Martov, and made corrections in the text 
which not only distorted Lenin's style but also his ideas. Thus, 
Lenin's terms pererastaniye (capitalism growing into imperialism) 
was altered to prevrashcheniye (transformation); reaktstonny kha- 
rakter (reactionary nature of the theory of ultra-imperialism) to 
otstaly kharakter (backward character), etc. In mid-1917, the book 
was published under the title Imperialism, the Latest Stage of 
Capitalism (A Popular Outline) with a preface by Lenin, dated 
April 26, 1917. p. 185 

This preface was first published under the title "Imperialism and 
Capitalism" in Communist International No. 18, dated October, 
1921. p. 189 

A Centrist party set up at an inaugural congress at Gotha in April 
1917. Owing to the revolutionary upswing, which was greatly 
intensified by the bourgeois-democratic revolution in Russia in 
February 1917, the opportunist leadership of the Social-Democratic 
Party of Germany was losing ground among the rank and file. 
To overcome their discontent, divert attention from the revolu- 
tionary struggle and prevent the establishment of a revolutionary 
working-class party, the Centrist leaders tried to set up a party 
which would give them continued control of the masses. It was 
intended to make the Independent Social-Democratic Party of 
Germany such a party. The Independents used Centrist phrases 
to cover up their call for unity with the social-chauvinists and 
desertion of the class struggle. The bulk of the party consisted of 
the Kautskyite Labour Commonwealth. 

The Spartacus group remained in the party for a time but 
was organisationally and politically independent, continuing 
its illegal work and struggle to rid the masses of the influence of 
Centrist leaders. In 1918, the Spartacus League withdrew from the 
Independent Party and became the core of the Communist Party 
of Germany. 

In October 1920, a split took place at the congress in Halle. 
In December 1920, a considerable part of the Independent S.D. 
Party merged with the Communist Party of Germany. The Right- 




wing elements formed a separate party and took the old name of 
I.S.D.P.G., which existed until 1922. p. 193 

The Spartacists — members of a revolutionary organisation of 
German Left-wing Social-Democrats; formed in January 1916 under 
the leadership of Karl Liebknecht, Rosa Luxemburg, Franz Mehring, 
Clara Zetkin, J. Marchlewski, L. Jogiches (Tyszka) and Wilhelm 
Pieck. In April 1915, Luxemburg and Mehring founded Die 
Internationale, a magazine which rallied the main group of the Left- 
wing Social-Democrats of Germany. From 1916, the Internationale 
group, apart from the political leaflets they had been printing 
since 1915, began the illegal publication and circulation of 
Political Letters which were signed Spartacus (issued regularly 
until October 1918); this gave the group its name of Spartacus 
League. They conducted revolutionary propaganda among the 
masses, organised massive anti-war action, led strikes, exposed 
the imperialist nature of the world war and the treachery of the 
opportunist Social-Democratic leaders. But they made serious 
theoretical and political mistakes: they denied the possibility of 
national liberation wars in the imperialist epoch, they took an 
inconsistent stand on the slogan of turning the imperialist war 
into a civil war, underestimated the role of the proletarian party 
as the vanguard of the working class, underestimated the peasantry 
as the ally of the proletariat and were afraid to break with the 
opportunists. Lenin repeatedly criticised their mistakes (see "The 
Junius Pamphlet", "A Caricature of Marxism and 'Imperialist 
Economism'", etc.). 

In April 1917, the Spartacus League joined the Centrist 
I.S.D.P.G. (see Note 82), but remained organisationally independ- 
ent. During the revolution in Germany in November 1918, they 
issued their own programme (December 14) and broke with the In- 
dependents. On December 30, 1918-January 1, 1919, they founded 
the Communist Party of Germany. p. 193 

In the present edition, the author's references and notes are given 
as footnotes. p. 196 

85 Karl Marx, Capital, Vol. Ill, Moscow, 1959, p. 593. p. 216 

86 These occurred during the widespread establishment of joint- 
stock companies in the early seventies, which was accompanied by 
all manner of fraudulent operations by bourgeois businessmen, 
who were making a great deal of money, and by wild speculation 
in real estate and securities. p. 218 

Frankfurter Zeitung (Frankfort Newspaper) — a German bour- 
geois newspaper published in Frankfort-on-Main from 1856. p. 220 

G. V. Plekhanov. p. 228 

Produgol—an abbreviation for the Russian Society for Trade in 
Mineral Fuel of the Donets Basin, founded in 1906. Prodamet— 
Society for Marketing Russian Metallurgical Goods. p. 232 





90 The exposure in France in 1892-93 of incredible abuses, corrup- 
tion of politicians, officials and the press bribed by the French 
Panama Canal company. p. 237 

91 Marx and Engels, Selected Correspondence, Moscow, 1955, 
pp. 132-33. p. 283 

92 The Menshevik S. M. Nakhimson. p. 289 

93 Karl Marx, Capital, Vol. Ill, Moscow, 1959, pp. 117-18. p. 290 

94 Boxer (more precisely: I Ho T'uan) Rebellion — a popular anti- 
imperialist uprising In China in 1899-1901 organised by the I Ho 
Ch'iian (Righteous Harmony Fists) society, which later became 
known as I Ho T'uan (Alliance for Righteous Harmony). It was 
ruthlessly crushed by an expeditionary corps of the imperialist 
powers under the command of the German General Waldersee, 
with the German, Japanese, British, American and Russian 
imperialists taking part. China was forced to sign the Peking 
(Final) Protocol which turned her into a semi-colony of the foreign 
imperialists. p. 296 

95 Rosa Luxemburg. p. 305 

96 The all-Germany conference of Left-wing Social-Democrats held 
at Karl Liebknecht's home in Berlin on January 1, 1916. The 
conference adopted the theses of the Internationale group which 
were worked out by Rosa Luxemburg. p. 305 

97 Bremer Biirger-Zeitung (Bremer Citizens' Newspaper) — a daily 
the organ of the Bremen group of German Social-Democrats. 
It was published from 1890 to 1919; in 1914-15, it was in fact an 
organ of the German Left-wing Social-Democrats; in 1916 it fell 
into the hands of the Kautskyites. p. 307 

98 Volksfreund (People's Friend) — a daily Social-Democratic news- 
paper, founded in Brunswick in 1871; in 1914 and 1915 it was the 
organ of the German Left-wing Social-Democrats, but in 1916 
it fell into the hands of the Kautskyites. p. 307 

99 Marx and Engels, Selected Works, Vol. I, Moscow, 1958, p. 540. p. 314 

100 The theses were compiled by the Editorial Board of Gazeta Robot- 
nicza and published in Sbornik Sotsial-Demokrata No. 1 in 
October 1916. p. 320 

101 For an assessment of the three views on Poland's independence, 
see Lenin's article, "The Right of Nations to Self-Determination" 
(Vol. 20). p. 320 

102 The 1903 discussion on the R.S.D.L.P. draft Programme, later 
adopted at the Party's Second Congress [see "Material for the 
Preparation of the Programme of the R.S.D.L.P.", "Concerning 
the Statement of the Bund'?, "On the Manifesto of the Armenian 
Social-Democrats", "Does the Jewish Proletariat Need an 'Inde- 
pendent Political Party'?", and "The National Question in Our 
Programme" (see present edition, Vol. 6)], and the 1913 discus- 



sion on cultural and national autonomy between the Bolsheviks 
on the one hand, and, the liquidators, Trotskyites and Bundists 
on the other (see "The National Programme of the R.S.D.L.P.", 
present edition, Vol. 19 and "Critical Remarks on the National 
Question" and "The Right of Nations to Self-Determination", 
Vol. 20). p. 321 

103 Marx and Engels, Selected Works, Vol. II, Moscow, 1955, 
pp. 32-33. p. 323 

104 See pamphlet by Engels, Po und Rhein, Section IV, M/E/L, 
Zur deutschen Geschichte, Bd. II, 1, S. 689 (no English translation 
available). p. 323 

105 Friedrich Engels, "Der demokratische Panslawismus", in Neue 
Rheinische Zeitung Nos. 222 and 223, February 15 and 16, 1849 
(no English translation available). p. 340 

106 See article by Engels, "What Have the Working Classes to Do 
with Poland?", Section II, in Commonwealth, of March 24 and 
31 and May 5, 1866. p. 342 

107 Lichtstrahlen (Rays of Light) — a monthly, the organ of the Left- 
wing Social-Democrats of Germany, edited by Borchardt. It 
appeared in Berlin irregularly from 1913 to 1921. p. 349 

108 Rosa Luxemburg's article, "The National Question and 
Autonomy", in Nos. 6, 7, 8-9, 10, 12 and 14-15 of the magazine 
Przeglqd Socjaldemokratyczny (Social-Democratic Review) for 
1908 and 1909. p. 350 

109 The Right wing of the Polish Socialist Party, a petty-bourgeois 
nationalist party founded in 1892. p. 350 

110 Marx and Engels, Selected Correspondence, Moscow, 1955, p. 423. 

p. 352 

111 Karl Radek. p. 354 

112 Rech (Speech) — a daily, the Central Organ of the Cadet Party 
published in Petersburg from February 1906; closed down by the 
Petrograd Soviet's Revolutionary Military Committee on 
October 26 (November 8), 1917; publication continued under 
another title until August 1918. p. 355 

113 Libre Belgique (Free Belgium) — an illegal journal of the Belgian 
Labour Party, Brussels (1915-18). p. 357 



Outstanding Dates 
(December 1915- July 1916) 



December 1915- 
late January 


December 29, 
1915 (January 11, 

December 29, 
1915-June 19, 
1918 (January 
11-July 2, 1916) 

December 1916 

December 1916- 
January 1917 

Lenin lives in Berne, Switzerland. 

Lenin holds a meeting of Social-Democrat 
internationalists to discuss preparations for the 
Second International Socialist Conference. 

Lenin sends Maxim Gorky the manuscript of 
his book, New Data on the Laws Governing the 
Development of Capitalism in Agriculture, for 
publication in Petrograd. 

Lenin works on his Imperialism, the Highest 
Stage of Capitalism at the Berne and Zurich 

Lenin writes a preface to Bukharin's pamphlet, 
Imperialism and the World Economy. 

In a letter to the Geneva section of the Bolshe- 
viks Lenin points out the need for a special reso- 
lution condemning the Mensheviks' fraudulent 
elections to the "workers' groups" under the 
war industries committees in Petrograd. 

Lenin is editor of the R.S.D.L.P.'s Central Organ, 


January 2 (15) 

January 12 (25) 

January, later 
than 12 (25) 

Lenin directs the sitting of the Zimmerwald Left 
Bureau to discuss the representation of the Dutch 
Left-wing Social-Democrats on the Bureau, and 
the publication of Vorbote (Herald) as the organ of 
the Zimmerwald Left. 

Lenin directs the sitting of the Zimmerwald Left 
Bureau to discuss measures in connection with the 
forthcoming publication of the first issue of Vorbote. 

Lenin's article "Opportunism and the Collapse of 
the Second International" is published in Vorbote 
No. 1. 



January 17 (30) 

January 23-26 
(February 5-8) 

January 26 
(February 8) 

January 28 
(February 10) 

January 28 or 
29 (February 
10 or 11) 


February 3 (16) 

February 4 (17) 

February 5 (18) 

February 13 (26) 

February 16 (29) 

February 17 
(March 1) 

February 27 
(March 11) 

Lenin writes a letter of instructions to the Zurich 
section of the Bolsheviks about the work to be 
done among young people in view of the forth- 
coming meeting of the International Socialist 
Bureau of Youth Organisations. 

Lenin takes part in the work of the enlarged 
meeting of the I.S.C. in Berne, writes the draft 
resolution on the convocation of the Second 
International Socialist Conference and the terms 
of representation. 

Lenin speaks at an international meeting in Berne 
on the imperialist war and the tasks facing the 

Lenin writes the letter, "The Tasks of the Op- 
position in France'. 

Lenin leaves Berne for Zurich. 

Lenin writes his theses, "The Socialist Revolution 
and the Right of Nations to Self-Determination", 
which are published in Vorbote No. 2, in April 1916. 

Lenin sends the Bolshevik sections abroad a 
communication on the enlarged meeting of the 
I.S.C. held on January 23-26 (February 5-8); 
he instructs them to start immediate preparations 
to mobilise the forces of the Zimmerwald Left 
for the elections to the Second International 
Socialist Conference scheduled for April. 

In Zurich, Lenin reads his paper, "Two Inter- 

Lenin's article, "Have the O.C. and the Chkheidze 
Group a Policy of Their Own?", is published in 
Sotsial-Demokrat No. 50. 

In Zurich, Lenin reads his paper, "The 'Terms 
of Peace' in Connection with the National 

Lenin's articles, "Peace Without Annexations 
and the Independence of Poland as Slogans of the 
Day in Russia", and "Wilhelm Kolb and Georgy 
Plekhanov", are carried in Sotsial-Demokrat No. 51. 

In Geneva, Lenin reads his paper, "The 'Terms of 
Peace' in Connection with the National Question". 

Lenin issues instructions to stop publication of 
Kommunist in view of the anti-Party posi- 
tion of the Bukharin-Pyatakov group, who tried 



February -March 

End of February- 

End of February- 

March 6 (19) 

March 12 (25) 

April 5 (18) 

April 11-17 

to use the journal for their own factional ends, 
and plans the publication of Sbornik Sotsial- 
Demokrata, under the editorship of the R.S.D.L.P. 
Central Organ, Sotsial-Demokrat. 

Lenin writes his "Letter from the Committee of 
Organisations Abroad to the Sections of the 

Lenin writes the "Proposals Submitted by the 
Central Committee of the R.S.D.L.P. to the 
Second Socialist Conference" (theses), has them 
translated into German and French and circulates 
them among the Bolshevik sections abroad and 
the Left-wing internationalists of various coun- 
tries. The theses are published in the I.S.C. Bul- 
letin No. 4, on April 9 (22). 

Lenin writes his article "Split or Decay?". 

In a letter to A. M. Kollontai in Norway, Lenin 
asks her to have Internationale Flugblatt No. 1, 
carrying the draft resolution and manifesto of 
the Zimmerwald Left, translated into English 
and published in Norway, and to take measures 
to circulate it in America, Britain, Sweden, 
Norway and other countries. 

Lenin sends his theses, "The Socialist Revolution 
and the Right of Nations to Self-Determination", 
to Norway to allow Swedish and Norwegian 
Left-wing socialists to study them. 

Lenin's article, "The Peace Programme", is 
carried by Sotsial-Demokrat No. 52. 

In his works and letters to Bolsheviks abroad, 
Lenin exposes the anti-Party views of the Bukha- 
rin-Pyatakov group on the key questions of 
Marxist theory and tactics, and their double-dealing 
in respect of the Party centre. He also exposes 
the double-dealing of Zinoviev, who in fact sup- 
ports the Bukharin-Pyatakov group. 

Lenin delivers his report, "The Immediate Tasks 
of the Social-Democrats in Russia", at a joint 
meeting of the Zurich section of the Bolsheviks with 
Polish and Latvian Social-Democrat internation- 

Lenin takes part in the work of the Second Inter- 
national Socialist Conference in Kienthal, organ- 
ises and rallies its Left, directs the commission 
on resolutions (criticising the pacifism and activ- 
ity of the I.S.B.) and secures their adoption. 



April, not earlier 
than 16 (29) 

Lenin makes an outline of an article or report on 
the results of the Second International Socialist 

May 20 (June 2) In Geneva, Lenin reads his paper, "Two Trends 
in the International Working-Class Movement". 

May 31 (June 


June 19 (July 2) 

Between July 4 
and 7 (17 and 20) 

July 12 (25) 

First half of 

Lenin's article, "German and Non-German Chauvin- 
ism", is printed in Voprosy Strakhovania No. 5 (54). 

In letters to Left-wing Social-Democrat interna- 
tionalists in the Scandinavian countries, Lenin 
gives directives on preparations for a conference 
of socialists of the neutral countries and defines 
the tactics of the Left-wing delegates. 

Lenin completes his work on Imperialism, the 
Highest Stage of Capitalism, and mails the 
manuscript to the Parus Publishers. 

Lenin goes to live at Flums, a mountain village 
near Zurich. 

Lenin's mother, M. A. Ulyanova, dies in Petro- 

Lenin writes his articles, "The Junius Pamphlet", 
and "The Discussion on Self-Determination 
Summed Up". Both are published in Sbornik 
Sotsial-Demokrata No. 1 in October 1916. 


TOM 22 

Ha amnuiiCKom x3UKe 

Printed in the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics